Ombudsman orders 6-month suspension of top 3 officials of Barili, 2 others
FIVE top officials of the municipality of Barili in southwestern Cebu were ordered suspended for six months by the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday served the suspension order imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Barili Mayor Marlon Garcia, Vice Mayor Teresito Mariñas, number one Councilor Shiela
Pason and two others for allegedly overpaying one of the respondents of her leave credits in 2012.
Barili Councilor Jeremias Aguilar, who received the second highest of votes in the council in the 2016 elections, will assume as acting mayor of the municipality.
A formal appointment is not needed, said DILG Cebu Provincial Director Jerome Gonzales.
“This is just a temporary vacancy. No need for a formal appointment,” Gonzales said.
Also suspended for six months were Richel Montemayor of the town’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Office (DRRMC), and municipal disbursing officer Salome Merelos.
All the respondents were found liable for simple neglect of duty, which is the failure to give due attention especially to the performance of a task.
The complaint stemmed from an investigation conducted by the Ombudsman after Pason reportedly received an amount more than what she ought to get as leave credits.
A copy of the anti-graft office’s resolution was not available for release on Friday, Gonzales said.
Cebu Daily News tried to get a copy of the resolution from the Ombudsman-Visayas but the person assigned to release the documents said they have yet to be furnished with a copy from their central office or the DILG.
The outcome of the case surprised Garcia.
“I’m dumfounded,” he told CDN over the phone.
“What they are doing to us is plain oppression. It’s offensive especially that the suspension runs for six months. That is too much,” he added.
Garcia was the vice mayor of Barili while Mariñas was mayor when the alleged infraction was committed.
Garcia, the brother of Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu’s 3rd district, said the Ombudsman has deprived the people of Barili of their elected leaders.
“I just did my job as vice mayor and I’m suspended for it. This case was very absurd,” said Garcia, who was the vice mayor at the time of the incident.
Garcia said he will contest the ruling of the case either before the Ombudsman or the Court of Appeals.
He said he would leave it to his brother, lawyer Pablo John Garcia, to take the appropriate actions.
“If you read the case against me, makaingon mo nga binuang man ni (If you read the case against me, you can really say that there is something wrong here.),” Garcia said.
Aguilar, who will sit as mayor starting Monday, said he too was surprised by the decision of the Ombudsman.
“I’m not even prepared to sit as mayor,” he said.
“I did not expect this to happen because my mindset is that I’m just a councilor. But I have to do what is expected of me as the acting mayor. Let us just continue working for the good of the people,” he added.
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