ASINGAN, Pangasinan -- Mayor Heidee Chua believes that the one-year suspension slapped by the Office of Ombudsman on her and Vice Mayor Carlos Lopez Jr. for putting their photos on the town's newly purchased ambulance and other government projects is "too harsh."
Chua said Monday, December 18, that she and Lopez filed a motion for reconsideration after they received a copy of the decision.
She said her legal team is now exhausting all legal remedies to have their suspension reversed.
Both officials were suspended for simple misconduct, misconduct prejudicial to the interest of service and for violation of Section 5 (a) of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct on Ethical Standard for Public Officials and Employees.
The decision was handed down by Deputy Ombudsman Gerald Mosquera and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. The Department of Interior and Local Government was directed by the Ombudsman to implement the decision.
Chua said she nevertheless welcomed the decision of the Ombudsman on the complaint filed by Evangelina Dorao, a municipal councilor, saying it is a wake-up call to all those in the position, as well as those who are not.
"At the end of the day, we were charged for simple misconduct. Who is not shocked by the decision of the Ombudsman?" asked Chua, referring to the one-year suspension without pay slapped on her and Lopez.
She said that the DILG memorandum circular 2010-101, which she and Lopez allegedly violated, prescribes no penalty for violators and appears as just a reminder to them and other local executives. She likened this to a memorandum circular for the wearing of uniform but no one is being punished because there was no penalty prescribed.
"This is a wake-up call for agencies implementing the law, like the DILG and even Congress to amend the circular pertaining to such a case to make sure it must be well defined," she said.
"It is unfair to all of us in public service to be slapped with a one-year suspension for just a simple misconduct and for acts committed in good faith," she added.
The mayor said they already removed their pictures and names in the municipal ambulance on the first week of November 2016 after receiving two letters from the complainant, Councilor Dorao, the month before.
"As far as I'm concerned, I did not violate anything. I did not harm my constituents by placing my picture and that of the vice mayor in the ambulance," she said. "None of our constituents were hurt by our pictures."
"It is too saddening because the one-year suspension is too harsh," Chua said.
She said she and the vice mayor still continue to discharge their functions, as there is still a need for a writ from proper government agencies to execute the decision. (PNA)