SIX months after the May 2022 elections that saw Marcos Ayangwa elected as mayor of the municipality of Paracelis in Mountain Province, Ayangwa has finally taken his oath as mayor of the town.
Ayangwa was stopped from formally taking oath and the seat of mayor after his disqualified rival Avelino Amangyen filed to nullify Ayangwa’s win following the May 9 elections.
Amangyen won the popular vote with 9,220 votes versus Ayangwa’s 5,185, but was disqualified by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on April 19 as he had claimed in his certificate of candidacy (COC) that he had not been convicted of any cases involving moral turpitude when in fact he had been found guilty of violating the Forestry Code back in 2013.
The conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeals and subsequently by the Supreme Court in 2018.
His case stemmed from a raid conducted by the police in his residence in Paracelis where several board feet of forest products not covered by permits were found. Amangyen was meted out the penalty of reclusion temporal that carries an imprisonment of a minimum of 12 years and one day to a maximum of 20 years.
The Commission on Election (Comelec), in its decision, denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Amangyen in October and affirmed the resolution of the 2nd Division canceling his certificate of candidacy (COC).
“A canceled certificate of candidacy void ab initio (from the beginning) cannot give rise to a valid candidacy, and much less to valid votes. Therefore, votes cast in favor of a candidate whose COC was canceled either before or after the elections, are considered stray votes. Being stray votes, should the candidate whose COC was canceled garner the highest number of votes, he cannot be proclaimed as the winner. It shall be the candidate who garnered the second highest number of votes who will be declared victorious,” the Comelec-Baguio explained in a statement.