Group seeks Castillo’s dismissal

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


A SELF-described advocate of transparency and good governance wants Cebu City Attorney Jerone Castillo dismissed from service as the latter allegedly also serves as vice president for administration services of Kwyne Sales and Service Plaza Inc.

Arman Perez, Transparency and Accountability for Good Governance, Empowerment and Development (Tagged) Inc. executive director, filed the complaint against Castillo before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for serious dishonesty, breach of public trust, grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority and conduct unbecoming of a public officer.

Perez, in the complaint filed last Thursday, said he believed Castillo committed “serious violations” in “cahoots” with the lawyer’s partners.

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“Did he publicly divulge his private business, his private business associations prior to his joining the Cebu City Legal Office?” asked Perez.

He further alleged that the city attorney also violated the Constitution, Republic Act (RA) 6713 (Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees), anti-graft and corrupt practices law and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ Code of Professional Responsibility, which disallows lawyers in government service to use their “public position to promote” their private interests.

Castillo confirmed that he is one of the stockholders of Kwyne Sales and Service Plaza Inc. and acts as the corporations’ legal counsel.

In a phone interview last night, Castillo said his role in the company does not violate any law or City Hall policy since City lawyers have been allowed by Mayor Rama to engage in private practice.

“We are allowed to do so provided that we disclose it and there is no conflict of interest. We cannot handle cases where the interest of the City might be compromised,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

He said that his investment in Kwyne Sales and Service Plaza Inc. has been declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth since 2011.

Castillo recalled seeing Perez in his office recently. Perez allegedly barged into his office without informing his staff and asked to discuss the case of a friend.

“He barged into my office and said that he wants to discuss the case of his friend who was ordered suspended by our board of trustees. I told him my City Hall office is the wrong venue and that we should talk about it in my private office,” Castillo said.

He added that Perez was wearing a Bayan Muna T-shirt, which he said was the latter’s attempt to intimidate him.

Perez said he learned from his friends that Castillo is not just the legal counsel of Kwyne Sales and Service Plaza Inc., but the city attorney also holds office as the firm’s vice president for administration services.

Kwyne Sales, Perez learned from its website, started as a single proprietorship in 2004 until it was incorporated in 2011.

Castillo and his wife, Daisy Castillo, are members of the board of trustees.

Conflict of interest

Such condition, said Perez, is violation under RA 6713 for conflict of interest. The law, however, said a person who has a private interest and serves in the government temporarily or in an “honorary capacity” is exempted from being charged.

Perez further accused that Kwyne is venturing into construction business and it has “contracts somewhere in Leyte.”

“The name of the construction is M&J Construction and is completing their papers for them to continue to enter public and private contracts,” he said.

Aside from Castillo, the lawyer’s wife and four officials of Kwyne Sales are named respondents.

Perez said before filing the complaint last week, he met with Castillo to ask the lawyer if his friend can negotiate for a settlement of a work-related problem last July 11.

He said his friend’s sister was preventively suspended by Kwyne Sales for 20 days after the management discovered there were losses in some transactions.

The friend’s sister wants the auditing to be finished first. But Castillo allegedly rejected the request.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 21, 2014.

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