THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas has suspended Danao City Mayor Ramon “Nito” Durano III for three months without pay for allegedly refusing to release the payment for back wages and leave credits of seven Danao City Hall employees in 2013.

Portia Pacquiao, graft investigator and prosecution officer, suspended Durano after finding him liable of simple misconduct.

“His (Durano) refusal to release to them their back salaries and other benefits would show his willful and deliberate defiance to the directive of Civil Service Commission for the implementation of its decision,” read Pacquiao’s 12-page decision.

The case stemmed from the administrative complaint filed by the seven City Hall workers, who accused Nito Durano of violating Republic Act 6712 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).

The complainants are Orlando Dagatan, Jr., Amabella Gomez, Cecilia Lawas, Celso Aylwin Manulat, Leo Enriquez, Conchita Batuto, and Maria Sofielyn Camance.

Last July 1, 2013, Nito Durano recalled the appointments of all employees during the term of his brother and former Mayor Ramon “Boy” Durano Jr. from 2010 to 2013.

Nito argued that their appointments did not comply with the requirements in the screening process by the Personnel Selection Board created through a resolution approved by the city council.

The employees were then barred from entering their work places and performing their functions.

The affected employees appealed the case to the Civil Service Commission, which directed Mayor Nito reinstate the employees and to release the payment for their backwages and leave credits.

But the complainants said that Mayor Nito still refused to release payment for their back wages and leave credits despite the finality of the CSC resolution in 2014.

Replying to the charges, Nito said his decision not to release the employees’ back wages were done in good faith.

His said he merely performed his duties in recalling the complainants’ appointments.

In the decision, graft investigator Pacquaio said that Nito’s refusal to comply with the CSC decision is a violation of existing law.

“Respondent’s protracted delay in complying with the CSC decision despite its finality caused prejudice to complainants who have been deprived of their means of living since July 2013,” the ombudsman said.

The ombudsman directed the Department of Interior and Local Govenment 7 director to implement the order and submit a compliance report to the anti-graft office.

Danao City personnel were already reinstated to their positions before the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas has ordered Nito’s suspension.

Speaking on behalf of Durano, City Councilor Edmund Lao said the mayor can still use the Aguinaldo Doctrine to defend himself because he was re-elected last May 9, 2016.

He said that while the Supreme Court abolished the Aguinaldo Doctrine on Nov. 10, 2015 in the case of former Makati City mayor Junjun Binay, the case stemmed from a 2013 complaint. The SC order is not retroactive.

Lao said that when Durano assumed as mayor in July 2013, he issued a memorandum recalling the appointment of the concern personnel due to lack of screening by the Personnel Selection Board (PSB).

Lao said the PSB was not properly constituted.

Lao recalled that the Civil Service Commission (CSC) decided to reinstate the affected personnel in August 2014. The same was affirmed in October 2014.

However, Lao said the City Government filed a motion for reconsideration on Feb. 23, 2015.

He said there was no intention to delay the reinstatement of the personnel because there was a legal question such as a petition for review especially that the CSC ordered was not delivered to the mayor’s legal counsel.

Lao admitted that they received the suspension order last Jan. 25, 2017.

“But the concerned personnel were already reinstated in August 2016 and were fully paid of their benefits last December 2016,” Lao said.