A Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch has cleared the way for the assumption of Noel Beronio as the new mayor of Araceli town, taking over from erstwhile mayor Sue Cudilla who was earlier proclaimed mayor by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) via a toss coin.

Judge Anna Leah Y. Tiongson-Mendoza, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 164, in a resolution issued on May 8 but was only released Monday (May 11), granted Noel A. Beronio’s motion for execution of the judgment pending appeal.

Beronio filed the election protest against Sue Cudilla, citing an “anomaly” on the decrypted ballots from Barangays Dalayawan and Taluto. Judge Mendoza ruled in favor of Beronio and ordered for the recount.

“After looking at the shades and marks, the will of the voters reflected as votes in the ballots are given effect. The votes are presumed to be made by the voters themselves and there is no reason to justify their rejection,” said the decision issued in March.

Based on the manual count of the election returns from two villages, Beronio garnered 3,502, while Cudilla got 3,498 votes.

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“Despite the threat of the COVID-19, the uncertain times have become certain. This Court envisions a stable political system for the municipality despite the extraordinary demands of political leadership and the structure and processes of the system. This is the time to execute the decision,” Mendoza said in her resolution.

Noel Beronio, 54, on Wednesday expressed joy on the court’s resolution and bared his plans upon assumption of office amid the COVID-19 crisis in the island municipality.

“Gusto ko siguruhin na ligtas ang ating mga kababayan na hindi tayo mahawaan ng pandemya. Ipagpatuloy ko rin ang mga programa lalong lalo na sa pagpapalakas ng ating agrikultura at gayon din ang kabuhayan ng ating mangingisda nang sa ganun may siguridad tayo sa pangangailangang pagkain sa bayan ng Araceli,” Beronio said.

Beronio said he intends to reopen the infrastructure projects, observing minimum health standards set by the national inter-agency task force (IATF)

“Ang mga proyektong infrastraktura ay unti-unti na nating ituloy na naayon sa protocol ng COVID-19 upang ligtas ang lahat,” Beronio added.

Sue Cudilla, the sitting mayor of Araceli, has yet to issue a statement despite repeated attempts of Palawan News for an interview.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.