FIVE municipal councilors in Alegria, including a former mayor, were suspended for three months without pay as their penalty for not attending sessions, which started in 2013.
The Cebu Provincial Board’s (PB) committee on complaints and investigation found Councilors Emelita Guisadio, Nemia Alocillo, Alejandro Villaneza, Maria Letecia Donayre and Diosdao Lerio guilty of grave dereliction of duty.
Guisadio is a former mayor.
Alegria Vice Mayor Marcial Rodriguez filed the complaints for serious and grave abuse of authority and dereliction of duty against the five councilors last April 2014.
However, the committee did not find the respondents guilty of serious and grave abuse of authority.
Rodriguez alleged that the officials refused to attend the scheduled regular and special sessions, “without giving any justifiable explanation or leave of absence prior to the scheduled sessions and their refusal to receive the notices of sessions, without any valid and reasonable reason.”
During its regular session yesterday, the PB passed a resolution approving and adopting the committee report.
PB Member Grecilda Sanchez, acting chair of the investigating committee, pointed out that the findings were the results of proceedings attended by both the complainant and all respondents, and the committee report is the collective effort of six committee members.
The committee report dated Oct. 20 was signed by PB Members Arleigh Jay Sitoy (former committee chairman), Raul Alcoseba, Peter John Calderon, Christopher Baricuatro, Miguel Antonio Magpale and Sanchez, who was the vice chairman when the report was made.
According to the report, Guisadio moved to adjourn the session last Oct. 7, 2013, which the other respondents supported, because a video camera had yet to be installed.
The respondents reportedly did not attend the sessions on Dec. 18, Dec. 19 and Dec. 21, 2013 and then wrote a letter to the vice mayor requesting that the regular sessions on Jan. 13 and Jan. 14, 2014 be suspended.
The five councilors allegedly failed to return to the session hall after recess on Oct. 21, 2013 and March 24, 2014.
The Local Government Code of the Philippines, as amended, mandates elected members of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) to attend regular sessions, and if necessary, special sessions.
“In the case at bar, the absences or the failure to return to the session of the respondents are not disputed. Although respondents have offered excuses ranging from personal and health reasons, incompetence of the SB Secretary to the allegedly illegal passage of ordinances, taking up of matters not in the agenda, improper minutes, and even failure to install video camera and television, the respondents have failed to convince this committee that their absences from the regular and special sessions were indeed justified,” the committee report read.
“Clearly the respondents have not been faithful to and have betrayed their sworn oath to serve the constituents of the municipality as they have deliberately failed and refused to fulfill their duties as elected members of the Sanggunian,” it further read.
In an interview, Guisadio said they will most likely file a motion for reconsideration (MR). She declined to comment further because they have not yet received a copy of the report.
“Is it a dereliction of duty kung mo-absent ka? Di ba mi entitled mo-absent kung mag-high blood ka kung di na maayo ang discussion? Maayo na lang ta mo-iwas (Are we not entitled to absent if we don’t want our blood pressure to spike during an unpleasant discussion? It would be better to avoid this),” she told Sun.Star Cebu.
PB Member Calderon said the suspension of the five councilors will not hamper the functions and operations of the SB because the quorum requirement will be reduced.
Based on opinions the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued in 2005 and 2006, the quorum requirements shall be based on the remaining SB members, excluding the suspended members.
Since there are five members that remain in the SB of Alegria, including the vice mayor, the quorum will only be three members.
Calderon told Sun.Star Cebu a suspension order will be issued by the governor. He said the respondents may file a motion for reconsideration within 15 days from the time they receive the order.