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As I See It

Trick or Treat for kids in need on Halloween

/ 01:35 AM October 29, 2014

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal reacted to last Monday’s column (2/27/14) on the case of Mayor Miguel Rivilla of Paniqui, Tarlac, who is apparently being railroaded out of his seat. “Maganda ang column mo on the Rivilla case,” Macalintal wrote in praise of it, adding:

“The Supreme Court should look into the highly questionable actions of the judge in this case. He was guilty of very grave abuse of discretion and gross ignorance of the law for deciding a motion for reconsideration in an election protest which is not allowed in protest cases. The three Comelec commissioners who will not act on Rivilla’s petition against the arbitrary and capricious issuance of the writ of execution can be impeached for apparent betrayal of public trust.


“Rivilla can go directly to the Supreme Court citing the 2000 case of Jose Carlos vs. Judge Adoracion Angeles where the decision, as in the Rivilla case, ‘was not only grave and whimsical, but also palpable and patent and the invalidity is shown on its face.’

“Election contests involve public interest and technicalities should not be allowed to stand if they constitute an obstacle to the determination of the true will of the electorate.


“Also, the annulment of more than 3,000 ballots of Rivilla is tantamount to massive disenfranchisement of innocent voters who cast their ballots without due process.”

Background: Rivila was declared winner in the mayoralty election in 2013, defeating rival candidate Rommel David by 3,233 votes. David filed an election protest which was dismissed by Judge Serafin Cruz of the Paniqui regional trial court. Cruz also dismissed his motion for reconsideration.

David filed a second motion for reconsideration—an act that is prohibited in election cases. It was at this time that Judge Cruz was reassigned to another sala and Judge Agapito Laoagan from Benguet was assigned as assisting judge. Laoagan granted the second motion for reconsideration and ordered a recount of the ballots.

Rivilla went to the Commission on Elections and argued that Judge Cruz’s dismissal of the election protest became final and executory when David did not appeal but instead filed a motion for reconsideration.

The Comelec issued a 60-day temporary restraining order, but Laoagan went ahead not only to write and promulgate his decision but also to hear a motion for execution pending appeal on the same day, all within the 60-day TRO period. Last Sept. 24, still within the 60-day TRO period, Laoagan installed David as mayor and ordered Rivilla to vacate his post.

Rivilla went back to the Comelec to question Laoagan’s actions, but while the commission accepted Rivilla’s new petition, it did not act on it to prevent David from illegally ousting Rivilla as mayor when the 60-day TRO expired on Monday, Oct. 27.

As of this writing, it is not known what has happened to the case, whether Rivilla was unseated or the Comelec acted on time to prevent an illegal act and an injustice from being committed. It seems a news blackout has been clamped on the case. Why?


*   *   *

Sen. Grace Poe is correct: If we allow 15 million kids (a number bigger than the population of the whole Metro Manila) to go hungry and malnourished now, we are sacrificing not only the children but also the future of the nation.

Malnourishment prevents the physical and mental development of children. The P15 million malnourished children will grow up physically unhealthy and mentally backward. If the children’s hunger is not stopped now, we would soon be a nation with the mentality of the current congressmen and Vice President.

Also, much of the crimes committed now are caused by hunger and poverty. The Department of Social Welfare and Development is doing its best to help the impoverished with its monthly doles to the poorest of the poor. But that is not enough. It is only promoting the mendicant mentality in our society. What the poor need are not alms but jobs. With jobs, the poor cease to become beggars; they retain their self-respect. They work for the food on the table; it is not given to them as alms.

Senator Poe said: “Hunger in this supposed time of economic growth is the paradox of our times.” She is right again. How come top government officials have mansions and huge haciendas in Batangas while millions of children go hungry?

*   *   *

Better-off children and their parents can help feed and educate hungry children by joining the Trick or Treat campaign of Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund) Philippines, which aims to collect funds for kids. The campaign encourages children and their parents to help those in need by making donations to Unicef. Instead of collecting candies and other treats this Halloween, they are asked to collect cash for the children in need.

“Over the last two years, children all over the Philippines have raised P750,000 to fund various programs,” said Dennis Cruz, fund-raising officer for Unicef. “This year, we’re asking the kids to to raise money for emergency preparedness.”

The additional fund will “enable Unicef to stockpile emergency water kits, family kits and medical supplies in its warehouse so that anytime the need arises, the supplies can be mobilized in 24 hours,” Cruz said.

It is easy to join Unicef’s Trick or Treat campaign: Just go to any Toy Kingdom store in any SM mall and you will be told what to do next.

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TAGS: Benguet, Commission on Elections, Jose Carlos, Judge Adoracion Angeles, Judge Agapito Laoagan, Malnourishment, Mayor Miguel Rivilla, Paniqui, Romulo Macalintal, Sen. Grace Poe, Supreme Court, Tarlac, Trick or Treat campaign, Unicef, United Nations Children’s Fund Philippines
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