AFTER being accused of singling out critics, Cagayan de Oro Vice Mayor Vicente Emano of Padayon-Partido ng Masang Pilipino is crying political harassment.

The vice mayor has been ordered by the Malacañang to answer the dereliction of duty complaint that some local opposition figures have filed against him. Emano sees the order as a prelude to more harassment against him by the administration party.

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It is but natural, he said, for the ruling party to go after its opponents to weaken them in the 2010 elections.

Emano, an ally of deposed president Joseph Estrada, said his lot was comparable to that of Isabela Governor Grace Padaca-a Malacañang critic who was ordered by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to step down after losing a recount.

"Sama sa nahitabo ni Governor Grace Padaca nga napildi sa recount ug gipakanaog sa puwesto, mao sab kana ang buot nilang mahitabo kanako (Just like what happened to Governor Grace Padaca who lost in the recount and ordered to leave her post, they are also trying to do just that to me)," Emano said recently in one of his weekly radio programs.

In a complaint filed before Malacañang last November, Emano was accused of "deliberately avoiding to attend" to his official functions, "to the great prejudice and damage of the city and the constituents."

In its totality, the complaint seeking Emano's suspension charged the latter for dereliction of duty, grave misconduct, gross negligence and unbecoming of a public official.

Last Sunday, Emano confirmed he received the notice from Malacañang ordering him to answer the charges.

The complaint also accused Emano and his party-mates in the majority of converting the City Council into an "exclusive and private affairs of the administration party in power."

The three-member minority group lamented that they have been deprived of "service vehicles"-a privilege that everyone in the majority enjoys, including the assignment of a secretary for each.

Names of complainants are Councilors Teodolfo Lao, Zaldy Ocon, and Roger Abaday, and Barangay chairmen Enrico Salcedo of Barangay Gusa and Carmelito Damo of Barangay Indahag.

Manuel Valdehuesa, a senatorial candidate in the Kapatiran, Party-Indahag Barangay Chairman Carmelito Damo and a local non-government organization member Greg Macabodbod joined the counsilors in the complaint.

If found guilty for the charges, the vice mayor could possibly be ousted from his position, said Councilor Abaday.

"Emano should be investigated for his action kay nagdawat siya og suweldo pero wala niya gituman ang iyang responsibility," said Abaday. "As elected vice mayor, it is his duty to preside the session and not just play poker or anything in his office."

His allies in the City Council, however, have consistently defended him over his absenteeism, saying the official is not breaking any law by rotating his duties to other members of the City Council.

In his letters to the City Council informing of his absence, Emano would say he was attending to "other matters of equal importance" to his duties at the legislative body. (With DVAIII)