Rama fires officials tagged in garbage collection mess
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has relieved City Hall officials tagged in the anomalous P240-million garbage collection mess.
Lawyer Collin Rossell, the mayor’s secretary, made this announcement during a press conference on Thursday, December 29.
Rossell said that while they stand on the premise that an individual is innocent until proven guilty, Rama and other city government officials decided to terminate their jobs to not impede ongoing investigations.
“To keep public trust in our day-to-day affairs, we hereby relieve from all their duties and responsibilities the city officials who the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) named in the garbage plunder case as this statement is issued,” Rossell said.
However, the City Hall executive said they may be assigned to other roles “not related to their previous function.”
“Nonetheless, they are expected to do the duties and responsibilities required in the position, and align themselves with the direction of the heads of offices who will oversee their jobs,” added Rossell.
Following the relief order from Rama, the city government has assigned several officers-in-charge (OICs) to take the helm of the department they’re assigned to.
Rossell urged them to observe prudence and due diligence, and ensure that the delivery of basic services will be unhampered.
“Let us allow the wheels of justice to churn and determine the culpability of the individuals named in the garbage plunder case,” he said.
At least 15 individuals, including former and incumbent officials of the Cebu City Government, are facing criminal and administrative charges over an anomalous garbage collection scheme that cost P240 million in public funds.
The Central Visayas office of the NBI (NBI-7) lodged complaints of plunder, malversation of public funds, graft and corruption, and violation of the government code of conduct and ethics before the Office of the Ombudsman last December 14.
NBI-7 named former City Administrator and lawyer Floro Casas Jr., Department of Public Services (DPS) chief, and lawyer John Jigo Dacua, and Cebu Environmental Sanitation and Enforcement Team (Ceset) head and former Garbage Collection and Disposal in-charge Grace Luardo-Silva as among the respondents.
Other city hall executives accused included Allen Omlero Ceballos (Inspection Officer of DPS), Romelito Asinjo Datan (City Treasurer’s Office Inspector, DPS), Mark Abarquez Ugbinar (General Services Office Inspector, DPS), Jerome Visarra Ornopia, and Mare Vae Fernandez (acting City Treasurer).
They also named as respondents several executives from the private contractor tasked to carry out the garbage collection.
After NBI-7 has filed the cases and uncovered the anomalous scheme, Rama ordered the accused to take leaves of absence. /rcg
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