Castillo asked to inhibit from Rama case

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita January 19,2016 - 11:23 PM
Resident of barangay Labangon show support for their chairman during the preliminary conference at DILG 7. (CDN PHOTO/SANTINO BUNACHITA)

Resident of barangay Labangon show support for their chairman during the preliminary conference at DILG 7. (CDN PHOTO/SANTINO BUNACHITA)

Cebu City Legal Officer Jerone Castillo has been asked to inhibit himself from the investigation of the case that led to the 60-day preventive suspension of Mayor Michael Rama.

Lawyers Kirk Bryan Repollo and Benjamin Militar, who represent Labangon barangay captain Victor Buendia, said Castillo’s representation of the suspended mayor is a conflict of interest.

“The primary duty of the City Legal Office is they’re the legal advisor of the entire City of Cebu which includes the barangays. Now, the city is in a legal battle with a barangay which is in conflict of interest on the case,” Repollo said during the preliminary conference yesterday on the administrative complaint filed by Buendia against Rama.
Castillo, however, is not going to be held back.

“It’s too late in the day to question my authority. If the intention is to remove me, it’s not the proper time now. It should have been at the onset of the case. It’s a belated challenge. I’m just doing my job since the mayor was only performing his function,” he said.

Rama was ordered suspended for 60 days last December 2 for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct and oppression in connection with the removal of a center barrier at the corner of Katipunan and Salvador Streets in barangay Labangon. He is expected to resume his functions as mayor on February 8.
During the preliminary conference held by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) yesterday, Rama was represented by Castillo, City Hall lawyer Mary Rose Salvatierra, private lawyer Floro Casas, Jr. and Rama’s son Mikel.

The DILG will resolve the question of Castillo’s authority after Buendia’s camp submits a written manifestation on their motion.

The mayor’s camp yesterday asked DILG hearing officer Isidro Barrios III to postpone the proceedings because of a pending motion to dismiss filed by the city before the Office of the President. The motion was submitted in July last year and has not been resolved as of yesterday.

Barrios said, however, he doesn’t have a copy of the motion. It wasn’t among the documents turned over by the Office of the President for the case. He also noted that there was no mention of the motion in the Malacanang’s order for Rama’s preventive suspension.

Rama’s camp gave a copy of the motion to Barrios yesterday, who perused it during a 10-minute recess. He decided to continue with the preliminary conference.

Both camps yesterday completed the presentation of facts. They are expected to mark the different evidences when they continue the conference today.

Several barangay residents, who arrived on board barangay buses and other service vehicles,  accompanied Buendia to the DILG 7 office in Sudlon, Lahug yesterday.
Fely Escandalyo, 63, admitted she didn’t know why she was there.

“Giingnan ra ko sa akong silingan nga magtapok kuno mi sa barangay para makatambong mi ani. Wa jud ko kahibaw unsa ni, nikuyog ra ko (I was told by a neighbor that we will meet at the barangay hall so that we can come here and attend this. I really don’t know what this is about. I just joined),” she said.

The residents were initially told to stay outside the DILG building since the room where the conference was held can’t accommodate all of them. But later on, some of them were allowed inside the conference room to listen to the discussions.

Barangay hall worker Josephine Plaza, 55, said she was there to show support for Buendia.

“Ang ako lang, di maayo ang iyang (Rama) gibuhat kay for safety man to sa mga taw. Sayop to iyaha. Karon makita nimo nga bisag mga dagko mahadlok molabang didto kay way barrier,” she said.
(For me, what Rama did was not good. It was meant to provide safety. Now even adults are afraid of crossing the area because there’s no barrier.)

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TAGS: Cebu City, DILG, jerone castillo, Labangon, Michael Rama, Victor Buendia

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