Ombud suspends Sibonga mayor

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Friday, August 22, 2014


THE Office of the Ombudsman ordered the three-month suspension without pay of Sibonga Mayor Lionel Bacalso for simple misconduct for “removing tennis nets at the public tennis court” in the town plaza.

“Wherefore, finding substantial evidence against respondent Lionel Bacaltos for simple misconduct, he is hereby meted the penalty of suspension from the service without pay for the period of three months,” read the decision approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales with handwritten date Aug. 8, 2014.

The Sibonga Tennis Club Inc. filed a complaint against Bacaltos, and upon initial evaluation, the Ombudsman docketed the complaint as grave abuse of authority.

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“This is an eye-opener to politicians to respect the rule of law and the right of taxpayers,” tennis club president Ret. Sr. Supt Tito Satera said.

Complainants of the case are Satera, Nestor Ponce, Fabian Jose Teves, George Chan, Irvin Rizon, Gerson Chan and Aurelio Amores.

The 60-member tennis club welcomed the decision, saying that despite that they filed a grave abuse complaint, the mayor was penalized for simple misconduct.

“He may have overstepped the bounds of his authority as local chief executive, but he did not inflict any harm or cruelty to any person. He may, however, be held liable for simple misconduct,” read the Ombudsman decision.

Incident

Club members said that after they filed their complaint, the mayor leveled to the ground the tennis court by tearing down its perimeter fence, removing its net poles, and demolishing its wash and comfort room. They believe the decision was based on the removal of the net and not the leveling of the tennis court.

The members accepted the decision.

The Ombudsman’s decision stated that last June 2, 2013 Gerson Chan saw Armistice Uytico and Edward Llanos removed the tennis nets at the court, and told them the mayor ordered it.

The complainants said the closure was not covered by an ordinance as provided in Sec. 21, such as closure of roads, parks and public facility, of the Local Government Code or a prior written notice.

The mayor reopened the tennis court on condition that it shall be manned by his allies, the decision read, and Armistice Uytico was appointed as president and Edward Llanos as vice president of tennis club.

But conflict again arose between the new president and club members, so the net was again removed the second time.

The Ombudsman on April 2014 directed Bacaltos to answer the complaint.

The mayor denied that he appointed his allies to be club officials. He said club members use the court exclusively for themselves, so he locked it up. He, however, failed to submit evidence to prove the existence of those complaints, said the Ombudsman.

The club then allowed non-members to use the tennis court, and the mayor ordered the removal of the lock and allowed everyone to use it.

No comment

Meanwhile, Bacaltos said he yet to receive a copy of the decision.

He said he heard that there is a three-month suspension for him, but even his lawyer has not yet received an official copy of the ombudsman’s resolution.

He will check today if his staff received a copy.

The mayor would also like to reserve his comments once he received the decision of the complaint.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2014.

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