Tension grips Zambo del Sur town as mayor is suspended, vice mayor arrested

By: Leah Agonoy - Philippine Daily Inquirer | September 13,2020 - 06:51 AM

PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines — Political tension gripped Kumalarang town of Zamboanga del Sur as its mayor was suspended and the vice mayor was arrested due to a graft conviction.

Talk among townsfolk over the unusual turn of events revolved around the speculation that the two events might have been related.

Several hours after the suspension order against Mayor Ruel Molina was served last Tuesday, police operatives arrested Vice Mayor Allan Damas who was convicted by the Sandiganbayan in 2018 in a nepotism case, but the arrest warrant was issued only last July.

Although both leaders ran under the wings of Gov. Victor Yu in the 2019 midterm polls, Molina had reportedly aligned himself with another political bloc.

Molina’s suspension stemmed from an unusual deal gone wrong.

When Molina assumed as mayor last year, the chief of Barangay Mahayahay, Gemar Pintac, resigned.

Molina then allegedly asked the six village councilors to waive their right to succeed Pintac, so that the seventh village councilor, Celso Gemina, could assume as the post.

However, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) did not honor the waivers. So, on further prodding, the six eventually resigned to pave the way for Gemina to succeed Pintac.

Molina then appointed them to the same posts, but the appointments were invalidated by the DILG saying they could not retake the posts they had relinquished.

To appease them, Molina supposedly promised to appoint their spouses or children instead.

But Molina appointed other people.

Last July, the six village councilors who resigned upon Molina’s prodding filed a complaint of abuse of authority before the provincial legislative board which, in turn, recommended the mayor’s 60-day preventive suspension.

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TAGS: graft conviction, mayor suspended, vice mayor arrested, Zamboanga del Sur

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