Dalaguete mayor, 7 others suspended

By: Morexette B. Erram December 04,2017 - 10:53 PM

The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday announced the three-month suspension of Dalaguete town Mayor Ronald Allan Cesante and seven other local officials after they were found guilty of simple misconduct and neglect of duty over the sinking of a fishing boat in November 2014.

Cesante along with Dalaguete municipal administrator Rydal Cisneros, environmental division head Almar Villahermosa, agricultural technician Juana Tangpos, Bantay Dagat member Peter Bejarasco, municipal deputy fish wardens Felipe Calisang and Juan Millan and Dalaguete police acting chief PO2 Clito Pia, were found directly responsible for the boat’s sinking after they refused to heed persistent pleas from the vessel’s owner to relocate the boat to a safer location during the onslaught of Typhoon Queenie.

The boat, owned by a certain Rusell and Jowleyn Heredia, was under the custody of the respondents after it was seized for violation of the Fisheries Code.

“The record establishes respondents’ failure to preserve the vessel seized. Despite repeated requests to transfer the vessel to a safer location amidst the coming typhoon, the respondents gave the complainants the run-around to avoid the responsibility of giving the clearance to move the vessel,” the Ombudsman said.

“Their failure to act on said requests constitutes negligence. In the present situation, respondents fell short of the reasonable diligence required of them, for failing to exercise due care and prudence in addressing the complainants’ reasonable request to transfer the vessel,” it added.

The anti-graft office tasked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to implement the suspension order.

Sought for comments, Cesante told reporters that he will file a Motion for Reconsideration (MR) on the order but he refused to expound.

This is the second suspension order issued by the anti-graft office against Cesante, who was first elected mayor of Dalaguete in 2013.

In 2015, Cesante was placed under a nine-month preventive suspension for allegedly approving a contract of lease for four commercial units of a building to favor his wife.

The complaint was filed by former Dalaguete municipal engineer Ildebrando Almagro who was Cesante’s challenger in the May 2016 elections.

Almagro alleged that Cesante and his wife, Joanna, began to occupy four stalls in 2004 without a contract which would have amounted to a monthly rental of P7,000 and spaces worth P250,000 each.

According to Almagro, the lease contract for the stalls was only drafted by Cesante five days before the mayor’s first term ended in 2007.

The Ombudsman elevated the case to the Sandiganbayan in June 2016 after the anti-graft office found probable cause to criminally charge Cesante with graft.

But the case was dismissed by the Sandiganbayan; four months later in October 2016, Dalaguete, a first class municipality, is located 84 kilometers southeast of Cebu City. /With reports from INQUIRER.NET )

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