Keeping the status quo
However one views it, the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) decision to defer the suspension of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and 12 city councilors was the right thing to do obviously because of the ban on suspensions during the election period.
When the Comelec hierarchy was asked about their sentiments on the request by the Office of the President to seek an exemption from the ban, they simply answered that they have many more important things to do than decide on it immediately.
It was best, they said, to go back to the case after the May 9 elections which by then would have made clear who the winners are.
Either which way, Rama will suffer the consequences; if he wins, he could possibly look at serving a six-month suspension order, and the Comelec may need not decide on it since the elections are over.
If Rama loses, he won’t be able to set foot on the mayor’s office even before June 30 since the suspension would eat up his unexpired term. There is also the matter of the motion for reconsideration to be filed by the Rama camp either at the Office of the President or the courts.
Rama can tie up the resolution of the case in the courts, but if he’s reelected, he can at least bear the brunt of the penalty with a smile and still roam around the city like he used to when he was suspended for two months on another case.
If he gets reelected, the mayor cannot resort to the Aguinaldo doctrine which the Supreme Court thumbed down as exemption from being penalized for an offense committed during a previous term.
Here’s another thought that the mayor’s critics may cringe at: Rama’s suspension means he can actually run for another nine-year term since he won’t be able to fully serve the remaining months of his second term of office.
In reality though, the mayor managed to go around the constrictions of his preventive suspension and actually waged a somewhat more effective campaign by touching base with city residents through his rides in passenger jeepneys and posting these on his Facebook account.
If the Comelec agreed to his suspension, both the Palace and the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK), who are supposed to benefit from the incident, would be looked on as pariahs and merely confirm the mayor’s claims that they are abusing their power to crack down on the opposition.
To be honest, the Comelec’s decision on the suspension of Rama, Labella and the 12 councilors is not about serving justice as the mayor’s camp repeatedly kept harping on but about keeping the peace and the status quo and adhering to the legal process by strictly enforcing the ban on suspensions in the election period.
For now, the merits and demerits of the case as well as the suspension will have to wait until the election period is over.
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