The Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan have issued separate orders suspending four mayors and other local government officials in Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions over offenses ranging from neglect of duty to graft.
In Batangas province, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will serve the 90-day preventive suspension imposed by the Sandiganbayan on Laurel Mayor Randy James Amo, said Manuel Gotis, DILG Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) regional director.
Amo, who is abroad, was suspended over a 2015 case involving the removal of a village official as president of the Association of Barangay Captains.
“This is not a penalty but just a preventive suspension to give way to proper proceedings,” said Ciriaco Calinisan, Laurel municipal administrator, on Thursday.
Lipa City Mayor Meynardo Sabili and city administrator Leo Latido were also suspended by the Ombudsman for a year.
The Ombudsman, in a resolution in December 2017 but was only signed on June 27, found Sabili and Latido liable for oppression and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service when they reassigned Teresita Pesa, former city social welfare officer, to various posts between 2012 and 2013.
On Thursday, however, Sabili’s camp said the Court of Appeals (CA) Special Fourth Division issued a resolution granting the mayor’s petition for a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO).
Gotis, however, said the DILG had not received a copy of the TRO from the appeals court.
Mayors Krisel Lagman-Luistro of Tabaco City in Albay province and Angelo Emilio Aguinaldo of Kawit town in Cavite province were suspended for a year for their alleged failure to shut down open dumps in their areas.
Eloisa Pastor, DILG Bicol director, said Luistro was suspended for her alleged failure to comply, despite earlier warning, with an order directing her to close the dump in Barangay San Antonio.
Pastor said operating an open dump violated Republic Act No. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2002).
But Luistro, in a telephone interview on Tuesday, described the suspension order as “unmeritorious,” saying she had complied with the order closing the dump on March 17 last year.
Luistro said she would file a motion for reconsideration in the Ombudsman and seek a TRO on her suspension in the CA.
In Cavite, the Ombudsman found Mayor Aguinaldo and four other officials guilty of gross negligence of duty for allowing an open dump to continue operating when it had already been ordered closed in February 2006, said Allan Benitez, DILG Cavite director.
The Inquirer tried to seek the statements of Aguinaldo and the other officials through municipal administrator Norberto Rayupa, but the latter, in a text message, said he was in a meeting. Rayupa did not take calls.— REPORTS FROM MARICAR CINCO, MAR ARGUELLES AND MICHAEL JAUCIAN
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