DILG denies request to suspend hearing

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita June 09,2015 - 09:51 AM
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) proceeds with the hearing of Cebu City's calamity aid case despite the request to suspend the proceeding as the city has asked the Court of Appeals to rule on the issue.(CDN/Santino Bunachita)

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) proceeds with the hearing of Cebu City’s calamity aid case despite the request to suspend the proceeding as the city has asked the Court of Appeals to rule on the issue.(CDN/Santino Bunachita)

Cebu City officials have reiterated their request for the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to suspend the proceedings on the P20,000 calamity aid case.

During the resumption of the hearings yesterday afternoon at the DILG-7 office, City Legal Officer Jerone Castillo said the probe should not continue since the city has already filed a petition in the Court of Appeals to rule on the issue.

“As a matter of judicial courtesy, we invite the attention of the hearing officer to refrain from hearing the case since we have asked the Court of Appeals to rule on this since the core of our challenge is the jurisdiction of the DILG,” he said.

Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella also pointed out that the DILG hearing officer has no written authority coming from the DILG secretary to investigate the case.

Labella said this is required under rule 1, section 3 of Administrative Order 23.

The new hearing officer Isidro Barrios III, who replaced Christopher Tiu after he inhibited himself from the case, said they do not have a written order but were only told to form a group.

But lawyer Ben Militar, who represents lawyer Reymelio Delute who filed the complaint against the city officials before the Office of the President, said the move of the city officials to suspend the proceedings is a delaying tactic.

“The main rule is if there’s no injunction or TRO from the court, this body should proceed.

The respondents want to delay this because they don’t want the truth to come out,” Militar said.

He added that he’s afraid the delays from suspending the proceedings might result in the 90-day period mandated for the DILG to resolve the case to lapse or it might reach the 90-day ban before the elections.

Castillo insisted saying that if the Court of Appeals would resolve their petition, then all of the DILG’s proceedings will be meaningless, moot and moribund.

After several recesses, hearing officer Barrios decided to deny the city officials’ move to suspend the hearings since there’s still no court order.

Castillo then asked the hearing officer to issue a written order on the denial of their motion so that they can use it in their case.

This prompted Barrios to suspend the hearings yesterday until he can issue the written order by today.

Yesterday’s hearing is the first of the four-day hearing scheduled by the DILG for the case.

Before the suspension of the hearing, Militar asked the hearing officer to issue a subpoena for CDN Reporter and Day Desk Editor Doris Bongcac to bring recordings and testify on Mayor Michael Rama’s pronouncement in 2013 that he used his P20,000 to pay for his electricity bills.

This is part of Delute’s arguments that Rama, Labella and 12 city councilors misrepresented themselves as calamity victims in order to receive the aid.

They also asked the DILG to issue a subpoena to City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas to bring related documents on the disbursement of the P84 million budget covering the calamity aid to over 5,000 City Hall employees.

The DILG has yet to issue the subpoena as he asked that the documents be specified.

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TAGS: Cebu, Cebu City, Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, Court of Appeals, DILG, DILG-7, Isidro Barrios III, jerone castillo, local government unit, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella

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