Soc suspended for three months

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Friday, July 18, 2014


TALISAY City Councilor Socrates Fernandez was ordered by the anti-graft office to serve a 90-day suspension for simple neglect of duty during his stint as city mayor.

Fernandez had allowed a job-order employee without a driver’s license to use his government-issued vehicle for illegal purposes.

Fernandez, in a radio dyAB report, said he formally received the suspension order last Monday.

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He said he and his lawyer filed a motion for reconsideration before the Ombudsman-Visayas last Wednesday.

He said that at the time of the incident, he had misplaced his car keys inside his vehicle. It was only after work did he find that his vehicle was gone.

The former mayor said he plans to invoke the Aguinaldo Doctrine, since he was able to secure a fresh term as a city councilor during last year’s elections.

Based on Aguinaldo vs. Commission on Elections, administrative liability of elected officials becomes moot upon their reelection.

Background

Fernandez, however, said he is willing to accept the suspension order if the anti-graft office will consider his appeal.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office (Pacpo) based on a newspaper report regarding the use of Fernandez’s government-issued vehicle by Benedict Gabasa.

Four years ago, Pardo police in Cebu City arrested Gabasa while driving the mayor’s vehicle after they received a tip that he had a run-in with a foreigner.

Gabasa was identified as a regular companion of Joavan, Fernandez’s son.

Police also found various illegal drug paraphernalia inside the vehicle.

No counter-affidavit

Following the incident, field officers from the Department of Interior and Local Government investigated the matter.

They found that the vehicle had been used for a feeding program in Talisay City and Gabasa, who was identified as a job-order employee, had been assigned to help.

Based on Pacpo’s complaint, Fernandez was accountable for the government vehicle issued to him and he was administratively liable for allowing Gabasa to drive his car without a driver’s license and a trip ticket.

Upon receiving the complaint last year, the ombudsman ordered Fernandez to file his counter-affidavit. But Fernandez asked for a 10-day extension to file his reply.

It later turned out Fernandez never submitted his counter-affidavit or even his position paper.

“Respondent’s failure to file his counter-affidavit and position paper despite notice is deemed a waiver of his right to controvert the charges against him,” Graft Investigator Ma. Corazon Vergara-Naraja said in her decision.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 19, 2014.

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