CEBU CITY, Philippines - Police officials in Bogo City, northern Cebu are not taking any chances on Tuesday.
Security has been tightened in and around the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Bogo in case supporters from rival camps of Daanbantayan Mayor Sun Shimura and engineer Antonio Corro arrive for an 8:30 a.m. hearing that seeks to bring Shimura?s political reign closer to an end.
Judge Antonio Marigomen of RTC Bogo Branch 61 is scheduled to hear a motion of execution filed by Corro and his running mate Dr. Jose de Leon.
They have asked the court to implement its August 11 decision that declared the two as winners in the mayoral and vice mayoral race in Daanbantayan in the May 2007 elections.
Both camps assured they would only bring their lawyers.
Nevertheless, rallyists will not be allowed near the courthouse to avoid disrupting the proceedings, said Superintendent Tito Satera, Bogo police chief.
The judge has asked Bogo City police to secure the court house and the vicinity of his residence in Barangay (village) Dakit, which is about 50 meters from the Palace of Justice.
?Our role here is to secure the area. We have to maintain peace and order,? Satera told Cebu Daily News.
In a 374-page decision, Judge Marigomen ruled that Corro won by more than 3,000 votes against Shimura, while De Leon won by more than a thousand votes over Shimura's mother, Vice Mayor Maria Luisa Loot.
The Corro camp filed a motion of execution, asking the court to immediately implement the ruling. The motion will be heard on Tuesday.
A team from the Regional Mobile Group will be deployed to the Bogo City RTC in Barangay Dakit or at least a kilometer away from City Hall, starting 5 a.m. on Tuesday.
A second team will guard the vicinity of Marigomen's residence in Bogo. A third team will conduct a mobile checkpoint.
?Wala ta kahibaw kung naa bay threat sa kinabuhi ni Judge Marigomen pero ang ato lang nga dili maka duol ang mga supporters sa duha ka partido (I would not know if there is a threat on the life of Judge Marigomen but we just want to make sure that supporters of both parties will not be able to come close to the RTC),? Satera said.
To prevent any commotion, Satera said only the lawyers and parties of the case will be allowed to enter the courtroom. If needed, body frisking and vehicle inspection will be conducted for court visitors.
Both Shimura and Corro assured they would not bring their supporters to the hearing.
Shimura said his supporters earlier planned to hold a rally in front of the Bogo City RTC, but he and Cebu Representative Benhur Salimbangon stopped them because Bogo was ?not part of their territory.?
Bogo Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr. is a political rival of Salimbangon whose victory in the 4th district congressional race is being contested by his son Celestino Martinez III before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.
Meanwhile, Corro said in a statement that he would not initiate a rally that ?would create or magnify the tension between both camps that could result to hostility and dispute among the groups.?
He, too, said he would not bring any of his supporters to the hearing.
Bogo police on Tuesday flagged down a service vehicle of Angel Rodriguez, former Punta Engaño barangay captain in Lapu-Lapu City. Rodriguez is a close friend of Senior Superintendent Vicente Loot, husband of Vice Mayor Loot.
Rodriguez was driving his Toyota Land Cruiser with plate number ASR 222 on his way to visit a farm in San Remegio town with four other men.
Police asked Rodriguez to open the SUV?s back door and windows for inspection.
?In plain view, we saw a 9-mm pistol near the clutch of his vehicle and we asked for his gun license,? said Satera, the police chief.
Police also found two hand-held radios inside the vehicle. But Rodriguez was allowed to leave after he presented his gun license to the policemen, Satera said.
Senior Superintendent Loot said Rodriguez was mistaken to be transporting ?goons? to Daanbantayan town.
Congressman Salimbangon on Monday appealed for sobriety among supporters, saying he wanted legal processes followed.
Shimura has hired the services of noted election lawyer Sixto Brillantes to elevate the case to either the Commission on Elections (Comelec) or the Supreme Court once Judge Marigomen issues a writ of execution.
He and Vice Mayor Loot held a rally in front of the municipal hall at 8 a.m. on Monday to denounce the judge?s decision. This came on the heels of last Sunday?s thanksgiving Mass celebrated by Corro and his supporters.
About 7,000 placard-bearing supporters of Shimura walked one kilometer to the Daanbantayan National High School sports complex for a two-hour program and protest rally.
Shimura and Vice Mayor Loot took turns expressing their dismay over the judge?s decision.
In an emotional speech, the 25-year-old mayor said he would limit services of the town to his supporters because he was hurt by allegations of the other camp that he was a ?fake? mayor.
He said he has been a good mayor since he took over the post in July 2007. But since Corro's supporters believe he didn't deserve the position, he said these people didn't deserve to be treated like his constituents.
Corro, however, asked Shimura to be fair. He said their fight should be confined in the courts and not affect the people of Daanbantayan.
?Dili na fair. Dili i-apil ang katawhan, kalooy sad sa mga tawo. Ang basic services para na sa tanang tawo supporter man o dili (That?s not fair. Don't involve the people. Basic services are for the public whether they are your supporters or not),? said Corro.
Barangay captains Paquito Diano of Tapilon and Juanito Ybanez of Tinubdan questioned what happened to the votes for Shimura and Loot which ?we protected during the election.?
Shimura won by 12 votes against Corro in Barangay Tapilon during the election.
But results of the revision of ballots showed that Shimura lost by at least 400 votes to Corro, Diano said.
Shimura strongly denied allegations that some barangay captains were given money to organize the rally.
?Nangutana mi ug unsay among ikatabang nila pero nalipay lang mi kay ang mga barangay officials gyud ang naninguha nga mag rally gyud sila, (We asked how we could help them but we were happy because the barangay captains worked hard to organize the rally)? Shimura said.
Shimura said the Association of Barangay Councils had applied for a municipal permit to mount a rally.
Cebu Daily News saw that some rallyists were handed plastic bags packed with rice and viand before they left the sports complex. Most of the rallyists rode dump trucks and privately owned vehicles on their way home.
A rallyist from Barangay Lanao said that a barangay official gave her P50 for her snacks and fare. /with reports from Correspondents Chris A. Ligan, Carine M. Asutilla and Jhunnex Napallacan