2 Capitol execs, Medellin officials ordered suspended
TWO Cebu provincial officials and four incumbent councilors and vice mayor of Medellin town in northern Cebu were meted a penalty of two-month suspension over an administrative case filed against them.
Ordered suspended by graft investigation and prosecution officer Vicente Albeos were Provincial Board member Horacio Franco, representing Cebu 4th district, and Cebu Provincial Legal Officer Riche Capahi, together with Medellin Councilors Ricky Ramirez, Juan Alfonso Lim, Joevenus Inot and Leonardo Montilla, and Vice Mayor Lee Villapez.
According to Jerome Gonzales, director of the Department of Interior and Local Government Provincial Office, they served the order, which would start on Wednesday, to the local municipal officials of Medellin and subsequently to the officers of the provincial government.
The suspension order stemmed from the administrative and criminal complaint filed by Tirso Seares before the Office of the Ombudsman in 2014 over the demolition of his house. At that time, Franco was still serving as municipal councilor.
Based on the Ombudsman’s records, Seares reportedly built his house on a public road that serves as main access to the shorelines of Barangay Kawit in Medellin.
An ejectment case was initiated by the municipality against Seares, and eventually, a demand letter was sent to him, asking him to demolish his house and vacate the premises under threat of litigation.
On October 10, 2013, Capahi, as provincial legal officer, advised the then mayor Ramirez that an ejectment case against Seares was no longer necessary and that the Sangguniang Bayan of Medellin “could just pass a resolution declaring the house of Seares as a nuisance and contrary to the municipality’s interest.”
At which point, the Municipal Council could then authorize Ramirez to demolish the house outright as “it stood on the public road without permit.”
The Municipal Council eventually passed a resolution declaring Seares’ house as a nuisance, and after several attempts, the demolition finally pushed through on April 22, 2014.
The aggrieved Seares filed administrative and criminal complaints against the municipal and provincial officers involved.
Taking into consideration that Seares’ house had been in the area for almost 30 years, graft investigation and prosecution officer Vicente Albeos ruled that the demolition of Seares’ house was illegal.
In his joint resolution dated August 1, 2016, Albeos said that the municipal officers should not have deviated from the normal legal procedure.
“Respondents should have observed the appropriate proceeding which, at the very least, would give Seares the opportunity to be notified and to be heard before his house was declared as nuisance and ordered demolished,” the resolution reads.
Albeos meted a penalty of two-month suspension to all the officers after finding them administratively guilty of simple misconduct.
However, Albeos dismissed the criminal charges against them, saying that there was no adequate evidence “to prove that respondents acted with manifest partiality or evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence in consenting to the illegal demolition of Seares’ house.”
With the DILG implementing and serving the order earlier today at Franco’s office and at the Office of the Vice Governor, Franco said in a phone interview with Cebu Daily News that he had already filed a motion for reconsideration.
“Of course, samok,” he said. “I mean I’d be lying if I say it’s totally okay. Samok g’yud because I couldn’t serve 100 percent kay naay restrictions.”
Taking into consideration the timing of the implementation, Franco said that work-wise, it is better as he would not miss much as the plenary is about to go on a break.
“Actually, sa work related, it’s better because we go on recess man in two weeks,” he said. “So I’ll only miss around four sessions in total.”
Franco assured that work in his office will continue despite his suspension and that even with the year-end reports coming up, as chairman of the committee on ways and means, his vice chair, Provincial Board member Dong Baricuatro can take over if the situation calls for it.
According to Gonzales, the suspension of the officials start to run at the moment of proper service of the order, which should be delivered either in the residence or office of the party concerned.
In case of separation from service, the suspension order is converted into a fine equivalent to two-month salary of the said officials.
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