THE Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has denied the urgent motion filed by the Cebu City Legal Office to reset the formal investigation on the release of P20,000 in calamity assistance in 2013.
The formal investigation of the administrative complaint for grave misconduct and abuse of authority against Mayor Michael Rama, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and 12 city councilors was supposed to start yesterday, but it did not push through since Atty. Isidro Barrios, DILG 7 hearing officer, tackled the motion of the city officials.
In their urgent motion, lawyers of the respondents said they had serious doubts on the accuracy and completeness of the issues and exhibits enumerated in the July 9 hearing order that DILG issued.
City lawyer Jerone Castillo said there is a need to produce the transcript of stenographic notes (TSN) of the preliminary conference on July 8 and 9 to allow them to verify the accuracy of the issues.
However, Barrios said the counsel of the respondents should have taken their own notes and should not wait for the stenographer to produce the TSN.
The hearing officer also quoted Section 10 of Rule 7 of the Rules of Court in denying the city lawyers’ request to be given more time to prepare the affidavits of at least 100 witnesses they will present.
He said the law requires the complainant to present their witnesses first.
Unless there is a temporary restraining order from the court, Barrios said, the formal investigation of the case will continue even with the prayer of the respondents to wait for the petition for certiorari and prohibition they filed before the Court of Appeals.
During the formal investigation today, DILG will resolve if the three city councilors who were present but did not vote in favor of the passage of the budget ordinance that covered the release of P20,000 calamity assistance will be included in the case.
During the passage of the budget ordinance, Councilors Margarita Osmeña and Lea Japson abstained during the voting, while Richard Osmeña was out of the session hall.
Lawyer Reymelio Delute also opposed the city officials’ motion, saying it is their way to delay the proceedings.
“It’s now becoming very obvious that Rama, et.al are moving heaven and earth to delay the disposition of the case calculated to reach the 90-day period given to resolve the case and the 45-day ban for suspension of public officials,” Delute said.
Delute was the one who filed the case against the city officials last year.