Davide under fire for suspension

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Sunday, May 25, 2014


DUMANJUG Mayor Nelson Garcia has gone to court in a bid to reverse the 60-day preventive suspension that provincial officials imposed on him for allegedly committing grave abuse of authority.

Garcia filed a civil petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction before the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City against Gov. Hilario Davide III and Dumanjug Vice Mayor Efren Gica, whom he accused of grave abuse of discretion.

“Not being a grave offense, there is absolutely no legal or factual basis for the imposition of preventive suspension in the case at bar,” read Garcia’s petition. Also named respondents were the Provincial Board (PB) and the Provincial Government.

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Garcia’s lawyers include his brother and former third district congressman Pablo John Garcia, Ramsey Quijano and Jemil Christian Marquez.

Provincial Legal Officer Orvi Ortega begged off from commenting on the case until his office receives a copy of the petition.

Governor Davide placed Garcia under 60-day preventive suspension based on the PB’s recommendation for grave abuse of authority on April 11.

‘Denied due process’

In his three-page order, Davide agreed with the findings of the PB’s committee on complaints and investigation, which was tasked to resolve the administrative complaint filed by Gica.

Garcia filed his motion for reconsideration asking Davide to reconsider his decision. The pleading remains unresolved.

In the 36-page petition, Garcia’s lawyers said Davide and the PB disregarded Section 63 of the Local Government Code when they denied the mayor due process and fair play.

They said Davide and the PB committed grave abuse discretion when they placed Garcia under preventive suspension.

They said Vice Mayor Gica failed to allege in his complaint any element of “corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or flagrant disregard of established rule.”

The evidence of guilt against the mayor are also not strong, Garcia’s lawyers insisted, since the recommendation of the PB’s committee on complaints and investigation contained “general statements” when it cited verbatim Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code.

“It is not merely a conclusion of law, it is a total reproduction of law,” the petition read.

Garcia’s lawyers asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order, or status quo ante, to allow him to continue the discharge of his functions of his “rightful office of mayor.”

“Petitioner, as well as his constituents, will suffer grave irreparable injury by being deprived of his mandate as the duly elected mayor of Dumanjug,” the petition read.

Expected

Garcia also asked the court to dismiss the administrative case and declare as invalid the PB’s resolution placing him under preventive suspension.

Davide, for his part, said he expected Garcia’s court action, while Gica said it is the mayor’s right.

“His petition in court was expected, I knew from the start that he would raise the matter to court,” Davide said in his text message, adding that they have yet to receive a copy of the petition.

PB Member Arleigh Sitoy, chairman of the committee that recommended Garcia’s preventive suspension, echoed their sentiments.

“It is right to avail (himself) of such remedy. All I can say is that his petition is without basis,” Sitoy said.

Gica, Sitoy and Davide promised to answer the petition once they receive the notice.

Gica filed an administrative complaint against Garcia in September 2013 for allegedly usurping the power of the vice mayor when the latter designated a new Sangguniang Bayan secretary.

Garcia belongs to One Cebu Party, headed by former governor and now Third Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia. Gica is an ally of the administration’s Liberal Party. (GMD/With a report from OCP)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 25, 2014.

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