ESCALANTE Vice Mayor Santiago Barcelona was served with a three-month suspension for "dereliction of duty" recently by Eduardo Ermita, executive secretary of the Office of the President, dated January 7, 2010.

But Barcelona's spokesperson said, they did not receive the hard copy of Ermita's order and instead what they have was only a facsimile copy.

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"Neither a formal document coming from him (Ermita) was sent to the vice mayor nor a copy from the DILG was furnished too," the vice mayor's spokesman said.

Docketed as O.P. Case No. 08-I-366, Ermita cited that Barcelona's dereliction of duty was "willfull neglect of duty."

Ermita's order was relative to the administrative complaint filed by Mayor Melecio Yap Jr. and City Council members Ester Ampil, Virgie Abong Pastor, Manolo Mendoza, Santiago Maravillas and Aladino Lumayno Jr.

The complainants filed against Barcelona as the latter's act of gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct and abuse of authority.

They alleged that Barcelona, as presiding officer of the City Council, "had committed acts resulting to the delay of the passage and approval of the Annual Budget of the city for calendar year 2008."

Also, they said "for another, when his attempt to relinquish the chair, as presiding officer, in order to participate in the deliberation of the annual budget was objected to by some Council members, he walked out from the session hall resulting to the adjournment of the February 7, 2008 regular session."

Needless to say, the delay in the approval of the annual budget is one of the schemes of respondent to purposely derail the programs and projects of the complaining mayor, Ermita said.

Ermita cited Barcelona's counter to be was "that the delay in the passage of the subject annual budget was due to resubmission of the annual budget to the committee of finance for further consideration as voted favorably by majority of the City Council members during the Januray 3, 2008 SP (City Council) session."

Further, Ermita said Barcelona "averred that the regular session of January 10, 24, and 31, 2008 were all cancelled for lack of quorum, wherein some of the complainants were absent on the said dates. That he walked out of the February 7, 2008 regular session because he was prevented from exercising his lawful functions as member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council)."

Ermita said Barcelona walking out of the session hall, is still duty bound to exercise prudence, diligence and circumspection "which his (Barcelona) office requires in the rendition of public service particularly in dealing with any legislative agenda."

"His (Barcelona's) unwarranted refusal to preside the session was a deliberate attempt to impose his will over the vehement objection of some Council members amounting to dereliction of duty," cited Ermita, adding that wanton neglect justifies more than a mere reprimand since it corrodes the respect for law and the internal rules and regulations of the City Council without the legislative functions of the latter can not continue.