CEBU, Philippines - Danao City Mayor Ramon “Nito” Durano III has started serving his 90-day suspension last week, barely six months after the Office of the Ombudsman approved the order.
The mayor served his suspension Wednesday, March 15, after the Department of Interior and Local Government – Province served the order.
In a ruling approved in September 2016 by Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente, Durano was ordered suspended for failing to reinstate seven employees whose appointments he revoked in 2013.
Lawyer Guiller Ceniza, the counsel of Durano, said the mayor accepted the suspension without argument.
“The suspension is not a big deal as far as we are concerned because the case is not about graft and corruption,” he said.
Ceniza said they already withdrew the motion for reconsideration (MR) filed before the Ombudsman and, instead, filed a petition for review before the Court of Appeals on March 9 to contest the suspension order.
“Sa normal course sa Ombudsman, dili makadali-dali og resolve sa MR. Dili adequate remedy so we went to CA and filed the petition for review,” he said.
The petition argued that the seven employees were duly paid for their backwages and leave credits and that the mayor lobbied for the approval of the supplemental budget so they could get their salaries and other benefits.
Ceniza said they also argued that Durano could still invoke the Aguinaldo Doctrine because the case was filed before the Supreme Court abrogated the doctrine in the case of Binay vs. Morales.
The condonation doctrine ruling states that re-elected officials cannot be held liable administratively for offenses committed during a previous term because their re-election meant their constituents have already forgiven them for their offenses.
The high court’s information chief, Theodore Te, clarified earlier that “the abandonment of the condonation doctrine should be prospective in application.”
“In our logical interpretation, the case that was filed before the SC decision is not covered,” he said.
At present, Ceniza said the CA has directed the other parties to comment further on the case.
“We expect CA will ask us to file comment-reply or rejoinder comments. After which the CA would determine whether or not to call the parties for a hearing. If not they may decide based on the documents/evidences filed if naa ba merit ang case,” he said.
The complainants are Orlando Dagatan, Jr., Amabella Gomez, Cecilia Lawas, Celso Aylwin Manulat, Leo Enriquez, Conchita Batuto, and Maria Sofielyn Camance.
They were appointed during the term of Mayor Nito’s brother and former mayor Ramon “Boy” Durano Jr. from 2010 to 2013.
The appointments of these personnel were recalled on July 1, 2013 by Durano, claiming that the appointments of the complainants did not undergo the screening process, supposedly done by the Personnel Selection Board, as mandated under a City Council resolution. (FREEMAN)