ILOILO CITY—The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) served an order to suspend for six months a mayor in Antique who was found guilty of oppression by the Ombudsman for ordering the clearing of a disputed farmland without consulting its occupants.
Mayor Genevive Lim-Reyes of Caluya town received the suspension order from the Ombudsman on Friday when it was served by DILG Antique director Victorio Pagapulan.
Vice Mayor Diosdado Egina took over as mayor, said Pagapulan.
In a statement, Reyes denied any wrongdoing and said she hoped the Ombudsman would reconsider its decision.
“I face this suspension with my head held high and my heart unburdened because I know that my people still believe in me that I did no wrong,” she said.
Reyes said she was suspended not because she had stolen people’s money but for offering free houses to displaced constituents.
In its decision, the Ombudsman said Reyes committed oppression when she ordered the clearing of a five-hectare farmland and the destruction of coconut trees in Barangay Tinogboc in Caluya starting on Feb. 28, 2014.
The antigraft body said the mayor did not consult occupants of the land and failed to heed a request of the Commission on Human Rights to stop the eviction of residents and the clearing of the area.
In an earlier interview, Reyes said she ordered the clearing of the property so it can be transformed into a housing site for residents evicted from a privately-owned land.
In a statement, Reyes said the land had been bought by the local government and was composed of 3 ha donated by the Janairo family and 2 ha bought by the municipality from the same family.
But a group of residents claimed that part of the land that was marked by Reyes as relocation site were farms.
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