THE Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the suspension for three months and one day of former mayor Monico Puentevella, and dismissal from service of his son Rocky Anthony after they were found guilty on the administrative complaint related to the “ukay-ukay” (used clothing) issue filed against them by former councilor Carlos Jose Lopez.
The ruling is contained in a 13-page resolution signed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Office 1 Irish Inabangan Amores on December 4, 2015 and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on November 21, 2016.
Sought for reaction, the former mayor laughed off the Ombudsman decision.
“Lumang tugtugin na na. Wala na ko ya sa pulitika! Hehe! (It’s an old issue. I’m no longer in politics,” Puentevella said in a text message to SunStar Bacolod.
The resolution stated that Puentevella is administratively guilty of simple neglect of duty, and he is meted the penalty of suspension for three months and one day without pay, while his son is administratively guilty of grave misconduct, and meted the penalty of dismissal from service with all its accessory penalties.
In the event the penalty of suspension can no longer be enforced against the former mayor due to his separation from the service, the penalty shall be converted into a fine in an amount equivalent to his salary for three months and one day, payable to the Office of the Ombudsman, and may be deductible from his retirement benefits, accrued leave credits, or any receivable from his office.
On the part of the younger Puentevella, if the dismissal can no longer be enforced against him due to his separation from the service, the same shall be converted into a fine in the amount equivalent to his salary for one year, the ruling added.
In his complaint, Lopez alleged that the operation of the “ukay-ukay” with vendors occupying 32 stalls along Gatuslao Street portion of the town plaza, a public place, needs a prior authority from the City Council.
The flea market, however, was authorized by respondent mayor through the concerted efforts of his son and Kasadya Bacolod Foundation Inc. chairman Rhoderick Samonte. The market was stopped due to public complaints.
According to the decision, respondent mayor appeared to have failed to do his duty to immediately call the attention of the vendors of their violation considering that they were holding their market at the public plaza where prior authority from the City Council is needed.
The mayor cannot feign ignorance of the existence of the vendors at the public plaza and their lack of authority from the City Council, it added.
“Under this premise, there is substantial evidence to hold him administratively liable for simple neglect of duty. He failed to give proper attention to a task expected of him,” the Ombudsman ruling further said.
The younger Puentevella was administratively held liable for grave misconduct after “(i)t was established that on several occasions Rocky demanded and received money totaling P500,000 from Marife Fernandez who was trying to secure a permit to sell ukay-ukay at the public plaza, under the assurance that he can secure the permit for Fernandez.”
Respondent failed to refute the overwhelming evidence against him, the Ombudsman said.