Palace keeps suspension of Dumanjug mayor

THE six-month suspension imposed by the Provincial Government against Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia stays, according to a resolution issued by the Office of the President through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.

The resolution, dated July 20, pointed out that the Sanguniang Panlalawigan’s (Provincial Board) order placing Garcia under suspension for six months without pay must be declared executory despite the pending appeal filed by the respondent.

The same resolution also “reversed and set aside” its earlier resolution issued last June 25 that deferred the enforcement of Garcia’s suspension.

“Wherefore, the order dated 25 June 2015 is hereby reversed and set aside,” said Ochoa, referring to the order of Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs Menardo Guevarra.

Guevarra’s order was earlier used by Garcia in announcing his plan to return to Dumanjug.

Ochoa further said that the decision of the Provincial Government suspending Garcia for grave misconduct and abuse of authority “is hereby declared executory even pending the subject appeal.”

Ochoa believed that there was no “extreme urgency” to defer the suspension of Garcia, which was implemented last May 4.

“Moreover, there is no clear and irreparable injury that would be suffered by respondent-appellant in case the said resolution is executed pending appeal,” the resolution added.

“We will make our move once we receive our copy officially,” said Garcia when sought for comment.

While he is yet to get his copy of the resolution, Garcia admitted he already saw it, saying, “Ila na gikalat diri sa Dumanjug (It has been distributed here in Dumanjug).”

With the appeal anchored on the assumption that the Province’s notice of decision and resolutions are null and void, Ochoa pointed out that “at this stage of the proceedings where records of the case submitted to this Office are still incomplete, this office cannot just precipitately rule that the assailed resolution is null and void as would warrant the issuance of a stay order.”

To expedite the resolution on Garcia’s appeal, the Office of the President directed complainant Vice Mayor Efren Guntranco Gica, who is now serving as acting Dumanjug mayor, to submit within 10 days from receipt his comments on the appeal and to furnish copies of these to the respondent; Garcia is also required to give his reply within 10 days after receiving the comments.

“After receipt of the said comment and reply, the case shall be deemed submitted for resolution,” Ochoa said.

The suspension stemmed from the complaints filed by Gica over the appointment of their Sangguniang Bayan secretary.

Garcia appointed Emmilou Cabonillas, while Gica appointed Nerio Aquino to replace Victor Tan Jr. who resigned from his post last June 26, 2013.

The Local Government Code provides that the vice mayor has the authority to appoint all personnel of the Sanguniang Bayan. Garcia, however, argued that he was the one who declared the post vacant.
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