CAGAYAN de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno heaved a sigh of relief past 7 p.m. on Monday night, September 25, after the Court of Appeals (CA) issued yet another temporary restraining order (TRO) against five dismissal orders.
The orders were penned by the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged wrongdoings from Moreno’s days as provincial governor.
Copies of the orders from the Department of Interior and Local Government reached the City Council around 4 p.m.
Lawyer Dale Mordeno, Moreno's legal counsel, likewise admitted getting a copy of the dismissal order but Mordeno said the orders had no effect as these were not served to Mayor Moreno himself.
"Ilang giserve sa law office nako (They served [dismissal order] to my law office) because apparently, the mayor is outside his office for some business concerns, but since I am the counsel on record I presume the DILG find it prudent at my office. But the service was not proper because it should have been served to the mayor directly because the mayor is the respondent and not the council. It's not valid and proper," he said.
"Definitely, Mayor Moreno remains as mayor of the city, no doubt about it," Mordeno added.
The TRO was received by City Administrator Dionnie Gersana around 7:30 p.m.
It was issued by the Former Special 23rd Division of the CA, and signed by Associate Justice Louis Acosta.
With placards calling for “justice” for Moreno, supporters of the city mayor had gathered at City Hall for a prayer rally yesterday while the Moreno camp was waiting for the issuance of the TRO.
The atmosphere at City Hall was just like that of the November 2015 incident where the doors of the Executive Building were locked to prevent personnel from the Department of Interior and Local Government from serving the dismissal orders.
"Ang among presensya diri, kauban ang mga kapitan, pagpakita sa pagbabag sa dismissal orders ni mayor moreno. Hangtod makakuha og legal remedy atong mayor nia mi dinhi magpakita ug suporta. Naghiusa aron dili mababagan ang pagserbisyo ni mayor Moreno sa katawhan (Our presence, together with the captains, shows our obstruction to the dismissal orders for Mayor Moreno. Until he (Moreno) gets the legal remedy, we are here to show our support. We are united to help Mayor Moreno continue serving the people)," Barangay Gusa chieftain Marlo Tabac said.
Tabac said the mayor's opponents will not be successful in hijacking the rebuilding of the city.
"Dili pwedi nga ang mga napildi sa election mobabag sa kalambuan sa syudad. Dili si Mayor Moreno and ilang gi kontra kun dili ang mandato nga gihatag sa katawhan (We can’t let those who lost the election stop the development of the city),” Tabac said.
Services at the City Hall meanwhile, remain unperturbed despite the multiple dismissal orders by the Ombudsman against Mayor Moreno.
City Administrator Dionnie Gersana said that the mayor has strict orders for the services of City Hall to be business-as-usual.
Lawyer Dale Bryan Mordeno, lead counsel of the mayor said the cases filed by a certain Antonio Nunez, husband of one of the lawyers of PaDayon Pilipino, should have been dismissed outright as there were no irregularities.
He said the office of COA in Northern Mindanao decided against any irregularities in the equipment rental when it ruled that: “It is incontrovertible fact that services have been rendered, services of equipment not found exceeding prevailing rental rates, benefits enjoyed by the public, and accomplishments duly recognized and cited.”
Moreno has maintained that the cases he is facing is part of the hazards of politics.
He however assured his supporters that his legal team is doing everything to defend him.
Moreno said they expect more cases will come out from the Office of the Ombudsman, admitting that the chopping up of cases is really a hassle.
“Pwerhisyo kaayo kay gi gutad-gutad man gud ang kaso (It’s a nuisance because they hashed the cases.)," Mordeno said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 27, 2017.