By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – While facing a Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc decision cancelling his certificate of candidacy for governor in Sultan Kudarat, Pax Ali Mangudadatu is beset with an arrest warrant from a regional trial court for a perjury case.
The arrest warrant was issued on May 1 by Presiding Judge Ricardo Aglugub Moldez II of the Regional Trial Court-Branch 235 in Makati City following a perjury case lodged by the respondent’s rival candidate, Sharifa Akeel-Mangudadatu.
(As shown and attached in this story, an e-copy of the arrest warrant was sent to media entities this week from the complainant’s camp.)
The judge ordered “any officer of the law” to enforce his order, and fixed a P72,000.00 bail for the respondent’s temporary liberty upon arrest.
Complainant Sharifa accused Pax Ali of committing perjury in preparing legal documents involved in his candidacy, particularly in the circumstances concerning his filing of COC last October and his stance as incumbent elected Mayor of Datu Abullah Sangki in Maguindanao.
Sharifa, the crowned 2018 Miss Asia Pacific International queen, earlier petitioned the Comelec to cancel the COC of Pax Ali due to lack of required length of residency in Sultan Kudarat.
The Comelec’s 1st Division granted the petition and ruled for the cancellation of Pax Ali’s COC last January. Last May 3, the poll body en banc sustained its Division’s ruling, denying in effect Pax Ali’s petition for reconsideration.
In a statement on Tuesday, Sharifa hailed the Comelec en banc decision as “an Eid al-Fitr gift” because it came on the day the Muslim world was celebrating Islamic feast marking the end of this year’s month-long fasting.
But the camp of Pax Ali, through legal counsel Atty. Cyrus Torreña, said the fight was not yet over and that it was premature for the rival camp to celebrate.
In an interview streamed online, Torreña said their legal team was ready to file a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) before the Supreme Court.
He called on supporters of Pax Ali to vote for him on Monday, saying that the high tribunal would have the final say.
His call ran contrary to news stories about the Comelec en banc decision that votes for Pax Ali would not be counted.
The Philippine Muslim Today news tried but failed to gain access to Pax Ali’s camp for words on whether or not it has already filed a petitioned before the Supreme Court.
The failed attempt was also meant to get reaction from the same camp on the lower court’s arrest warrant.
Petitioner Sharifa is wife of Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, a second cousin of outgoing Sultan Kudarat Gov. Suyharto “Teng” Mangudadatu and father of respondent Pax Ali.
Rep. Mangudadatu is running for governor, a position he had held for three terms in Maguindanao, against reelection-seeking incumbent Gov. Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu, mother of respondent Pax Ali. (AGM)