Vice mayor Christian Rodriguez will take over as mayor of Taytay town in northern Palawan, after Mayor Romy L. Salvame died Saturday in a Manila hospital following a lingering illness.

Salvame, 66, died from complications of a disease, according to Winston Arzaga, provincial information officer.

Arzaga said that the mayoral seat “cannot be left on a vacuum” and Rodriguez will succeed the office “by operations of law”.

“It was sad news to hear. Mayor Salvame, even though a public officer, was a very private person lalo na sa kanyang karamdaman. Christian is a good friend of our governor, he will automatically assume as the mayor by operations of law. Kahit na holiday bukas, he can already assume office, and the oath taking will have to be scheduled siguro some time this week,” Arzaga said.

Salvame was on his third term as a the town’s municipal mayor. He was first elected in office in 2013.

Salvame’s family has yet to issue a statement on the mayor’s passing.