EVEN if he is currently not on the helm of their municipal government, suspended Dumanjug Mayor Efren “Gun-gun” Gica assured his constituents that services and projects his administration started would not be hampered.
Gica, who was ordered dismissed and perpetually disqualified from public service by the Office of the Ombudsman, also said he has full faith and trust in the town’s incumbent vice mayor, and now acting Mayor Rene Asentista, to continue leading their local government.
“Our programs, services and projects will continue, and I trust our vice mayor so much. He is our ally, and I have high respects for him. That’s why I can assure all the people in Dumanjug that they are in good hands,” he said.
Last Tuesday, members of the media were furnished a copy of the Ombudsman’s 15-page decision banning Gica from holding public office after finding him guilty of serious dishonesty and grave misconduct for allegedly falsifying his liquidation report, and other supporting documents to conceal the misappropriation of P10,000 in public funds.
The decision was dated July 27 and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio–Morales on October 12. Gica said he received a copy of the order last week.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed last July 2014 by his political rival, former Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia, who, along with six other town officials, was also dismissed by the Ombudsman in 2016 for their refusal to recognize the appointment of a town council secretary in 2013.
This is the second blow on Gica’s political career as he is currently serving a one-year suspension meted by the Ombudsman Visayas last July for another complaint filed by a certain Marlene Quirante, accusing him and his brother, incumbent town Councilor Edwin “Wado” Gica, for illegally detaining her brother whom the Gica brothers suspected as a drug peddler.
Gica said that when he has exhausted all legal remedies to reverse the Ombudsman’s decision to no avail, he will instead support Asentista in the event that the latter will run for mayor in the May 2019 elections.
“If I have used all legal remedies needed, I won’t force myself to it. Instead, I will put my heart for our vice mayor who is now leading the municipal government. I will also do the same in case he will run for mayor. He will have my full-pledged support,” he explained.
Asentista was Gica’s running mate in the May 2016 National Elections under the Liberal Party (LP).
Gica also said that even if he will be barred from assuming public office, he will make sure that there will be no more members from the Garcia clan who would lead the local government of Dumanjug.
“I poured blood, sweat, and tears to work as the duly elected local chief executive of Dumanjug. But (even if I will not be allowed to hold office in the government), I will make sure that no one with the surname Garcia can take over,” he stated.
Sought for comment, former Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia said, “He is entitled to his own opinion. I respect his opinion pero ang iyahang tubagon ang kaso (but he should face the complaint). He should be constantly reminded that what he’s doing is for entertainment’s sake. Deal with the case first,” Garcia stated.
Garcia (One–Cebu) was the town mayor of Dumanjug from 2010 to 2016. He lost to Gica in the May 2016 National Elections. But even before the elections, the legal battle between the two mayors had already began.
Gica had filed a complaint against Garcia for usurpation of authority through appointing a municipal secretary without consulting the town council in 2013. At that time, Gica was Dumanjug’s vice mayor.
As a result, the Ombudsman placed Garcia under a 60-day preventive suspension in 2014, and ordered his dismissal from public service in 2016.
But two weeks after serving his suspension, Garcia retaliated by filing a complaint accusing Gica of falsifying a receipt from a Chinese restaurant in Cebu City by bloating the amount paid from P11,435 to P21, 435. The amount was used for food for a seminar for the Association of Local Budget Officers.