Ombuds suspends Soc for 3 months
Garry B. Lao (The Freeman) - February 14, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Department of Interior and Local Government yesterday served the Ombudsman order suspending Talisay City Councilor Socrates Fernandez for three months for an infraction during his stint as mayor.

“You are hereby directed to comply with this Order of Suspension by vacating your office, and consequently cease the performance of powers and functions appurtenant thereto, immediately upon receipt,” reads the order signed by DILG-7 Director Ananias Villacorta.

Last year, the Ombudsman found Socrates guilty of simple neglect of duty for allowing a City Hall employee to use a government vehicle without a trip ticket on September 13, 2010.

In her decision, graft investigation and prosecution officer Maria Corazon Vergara-Naraja said, “clearly, respondent transgressed the aforementioned law and rules by allowing (Benedict) Gabasa on September 13, 2010, to drive a government vehicle without a driver’s license and without any trip ticket.”

“His failure to ensure that only a licensed driver would drive the government vehicle issued to him reflects a neglectful attitude and a flagrant disregard of his responsibility as head of office,” Naraja said further.

The subject vehicle, a Toyota Revo bearing plate no. SGH 541, was registered under the Talisay City government. It was found by policemen in Barangay Bulacao, Cebu City following information it was used by Joavan Fernandez, who was considered public enemy number one in Cebu province. Joavan is Fernandez’s adopted son.

The Ombudsman warned that “a similar infraction in the future shall be punished with a more severe penalty.”

In a press conference yesterday, Fernandez said he will abide by the order while waiting for the Court of Appeals to rule on his motion for reconsideration.

“I submit myself to the penalty of the Office of the Ombudsman and I will respect the order of the DILG,” Fernandez told the reporters.  In his appeal, Fernandez invoked the Aguinaldo Doctrine or the ruling in the case of Aguinaldo versus Commission on Elections, which says that administrative liability of elected officials becomes moot and academic upon their re-election.

Fernandez was elected councilor in last year’s polls.

Vice Mayor Romeo Villarante, presiding officer of the Talisay Council, said he will be implement the suspension. Fernandez sits as chairman of the council committee on infrastructure and committee on laws.  In a separate interview, Cebu first district Representative Gerald Anthony Gullas said he is saddened by the ruling but the rule of law should prevail. Gullas and Fernandez are members of Alayon Party.

“We are saddened but we are in the rule of law. We will abide the decision of the Ombudsman,” Gullas said. — /JMO (FREEMAN)

AGUINALDO DOCTRINE ALAYON PARTY BARANGAY BULACAO CEBU CEBU CITY CITY HALL COURT OF APPEALS DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT DIRECTOR ANANIAS VILLACORTA FERNANDEZ
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