DILG fails to serve suspension vs Rama et al

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Central Visayas Director Leocadio Trovela served Friday, May 10, 2024, the preventive suspension order for City Assessor’s Office officer-in-charge Ma. Theresa Rosell and designated assistant department head Francis May Jacaban.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Central Visayas Director Leocadio Trovela served Friday, May 10, 2024, the preventive suspension order for City Assessor’s Office officer-in-charge Ma. Theresa Rosell and designated assistant department head Francis May Jacaban. (Photo by AML)

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 has failed to serve the preventive suspension order of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and seven other City officials despite at least two attempts on Friday, May 10, 2024.

Rama, City Administrator Collin Rosell, his wife, Office of the City Assessor officer-in-charge Maria Theresa Rosell, assistant department head for administration Francis May Jacaban, assistant department head for operations Angelique Cabugao, administrative division head Jay-ar Pescante, assessment of records management division head Lester Joey Beniga and computer division head Nelyn Sanrojo of the City Assessor’s Office were all not around at the time officials of the DILG 7 arrived, Friday morning, to serve the order.

Their office staff also declined to accept the documents for the suspended officials.

The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the preventive suspension of Rama and the seven other officials for six months for their failure to pay the salaries of four regular city employees. The decision was released on May 2.

‘Fiesta’

Past 11 a.m. on Friday, DILG 7 personnel, led by Director Leocadio Trovela, arrived at the City Mayor’s Office to serve the suspension order, but Rama’s office located at the ground floor of the executive building was empty.

Earlier that day, the suspended mayor appeared on City Hall’s online program ‘Ingna’ng Mayor (Tell the Mayor),’ where he vowed to have a “fiesta” of filing cases against those he claimed “persecute and maliciously drag” his name, including even the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Mi-file gani ko’g kaso against Gwen nga nanghilabot, kani na hinuon nga injustice (If I was able to file a case against Gov. Gwen Garcia for interfering, how much more for this injustice),” said Rama during the online interview conducted by the City’s Public Information Office.

“My marching order is very clear, let’s have fiesta of cases being filed,” he added.

Rama said some of his friends and law classmates from San Beda College have offered him support as they know that he was being “persecuted, oppressed, maliciously dragged,” just to have his “political influence cut.”

Meanwhile, failing to see Rama at his office, Trovela and his team then proceeded to the office of City Administrator Rosell at the second floor of the building. But the official was also not around.

Trovela and company then moved to the Assessor’s office located on the fourth floor of the same building to serve the suspension order to Assessor Rosell and Jacaban. But the two officials were nowhere to be found.

Notice only

As none of their office’s staff would receive the documents from the DILG, Trovela posted a copy of the preventive suspension order at the door of their office.

A quick look at the posted documents showed the words ‘Implementation of the order dated May 2, 2024 from the Office of the Ombudsman in OMB-C-A-APR-24-0033 entitled: ‘Filomena E. Atuel, et al. vs. Michael L. Rama, et al.’

Asked if posting the suspension order would tantamount to officially carrying out the order, Trovela said no.

In an interview, Trovela said what they managed to serve was just a notice of the suspension.

Trovela said the suspension order has not been implemented yet as of Friday due to the absence of the persons involved.

“In effect, that’s only a notice. We’re just notifying them that they have a suspension,” said Trovela in Tagalog explaining that the DILG 7 wanted to personally hand the officials their suspensions.

Unlike what they did for the suspended employees of the City Assessor’s Office, DILG 7 personnel did not post the same documents notifying Rama and City Administrator Rosell of their preventive suspension at their office doors.

Asked why, Trovela said they would rather hand over the suspension order personally to Rama and Administrator Rosell.

Trovela said they will exhaust all means to serve the order personally as the DILG has other options which he still needs to discuss with their legal team.

Trovela said they would consider substituted modes of service in giving out the suspension order to Rama and the seven others.

According to Cornell Law School-Legal Information Institute, substituted service can be accomplished by methods including, but not limited to the following: Leaving the papers with an agent of the recipient; leaving them with an adult of sound mind at the recipient’s home; leaving them at the corporation’s office or, as courts call it, place of transacting business; or posting the papers in a public place (like a courthouse door) and then mailing copies of the documents to the recipient(s).

As of press time, the whereabouts of Rama, Rosell and the other City officials, remained unknown. SunStar Cebu also tried to reach Rama and Rosell on Friday afternoon, but the calls remained unanswered.

/ AML, JJL

The documents read: "Implementation of the order dated May 2, 2024, from the Office of the Ombudsman in OMB-C-A-APR-24-0033 entitled: Filomena E. Atuel, et al. vs. Michael L. Rama, et al."

However, Trovela stated that what they served were just notices, and as of Friday, the suspension order had not been carried out yet. Trovela mentioned that the suspension order was not implemented because the individuals involved were not present; they intended to serve the suspension order personally to them.

The DILG 7, led by Trovela, did not post the same document for the suspension order for Rama and City Administrator Collin Rosell as they did at the City Assessor’s Office.

When asked why, Trovela explained that they preferred to hand over the suspension order personally. (AML)

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