Lanao Norte town mayor swears in sans resistance

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014


AMID talks of possible armed resistance from the supporters of the unseated mayor of Pantar town in Lanao del Norte that could have erupted in violent confrontation, the swearing in of the municipality’s new chief executive was otherwise undisturbed.

Mangondaya Tago, the town’s vice-mayor and now the mayor, said he took his oath of office without opposition from former mayor Mohammad Exchan Gabriel Limbona or his supporters.

In a phone interview with Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Monday evening, Tago said the Department of Interior and Local Government in Northern Mindanao (DILG-10) officials served the order to remove Limbona from office, at around 11 a.m. on May 5.

Tago said Limbona’s secretary received the order since he was out of his office when the DILG-10 staff arrived.

He said he did not accompany the DILG-10 officials to avoid any untoward incident that might arise from Tago’s presence at the Pantar municipal hall.

“Walang nanggulo. Mga empleyado lang ng munisipyo ang nandun (There were no agitators. Only the municipal employees were there at the town hall),” Tago said.

When asked where he will hold office, Tago said he'd stay at the old executive building so he could thwart any attempt on his life. Limbona’s office is at the new Executive House.

Tago said the chief of the Lanao del Norte provincial police has promised to provide him with armed security escorts for his safety as he assumes office.

Tago would issue the town hall employees a memorandum ordering them to report to the old executive building.

Tago heard from the municipal employees that Limbona was not worried about the DILG order.

He suspected Limbona might not have believed that the DILG order was finally served on Monday.

The DILG-10 staff also instructed Tago to go to the nearest LandBank branch to present the documents authorizing him as one of the signatories of the town’s bank transactions.

He said his first order of business is to apportion the town’s Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) to bankroll projects that Pantar sorely needed. Pantar’s monthly IRA is P3.8 million or P45.6 million a year.

Tago said his priority projects are the installation of the town’s water system and construction of roads.

“For almost 40 years, nothing has changed in Pantar,” he said, adding that he will do what he can to improve the town and its residents.

Limbona was replaced by Tago as Pantar’s new mayor following a decision from the Office of the Ombudsman that found Limbona guilty of various charges.

A document from DILG-10 central office signed by Cynthia Laureano-Pulido, DILG Law Division assistant chief, cited the cause for Limbona’s expulsion based on the Ombudsman’s decision dated September 30, 2009, with case no. OMB-L-C-08-0530, entitled: “’Hadjo Raisha A. Onos vs. Norlainie Mitmug Limbona, et al.’ find [Mohammad] Limbona guilty of grave misconduct, oppression, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public service and imposing upon him the penalty of dismissal from the service with the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service;’”

The DILG document also mentioned the denial of Limbona’s motion for reconsideration in connection with the charges he was facing at the Ombudsman.

The 125-page Ombudsman decision said that the reason for Limbona’s removal from office is his alleged involvement in the murder of Hadji Abdul Rasid Onos, then vice mayor of Pantar at the height of the local May 2007 elections.

In his August 24, 2013 letter, former Pantar mayor Malik Alingan also called President Benigno Aquino III’s attention to act on the Ombudsman’s ruling on Limbona’s case.

Both Alingan and Tago are members of the Liberal Party where Aquino is a national party official.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 06, 2014.

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