CH lawyer: No more suspension vs Rama
Jean Marvette A. Demecillo/FPL (The Freeman) - January 14, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Attorney Jerone Castillo believes that suspended Mayor Michael Rama and the members of the City Council facing administrative complaint for granting P20,000 calamity assistance to City Hall officials and employees in 2013 could not be suspended without the approval of the Commission on Elections.

Castillo made the statement after rumors circulated that a second suspension against Rama is coming out soon.

 “For me, as of today, the election limitations have already set in. There will be no suspension of whatever character without Comelec approval beginning January 10. So, if at all there will be a suspension of any character, preventive or penalty, it must have prior Comelec approval,” he told reporters.

Castillo cited Section 1 of Comelec Resolution No. 10030 dated December 22, 2015 which bans any implementation of suspension except applying the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

It states that “from January 10, 2016 to June 8, 2016, the provisions of law to the contrary notwithstanding, no public official shall, except upon prior written approval of the Commission, suspend any elective provincial, city, municipal or barangay officer.”

Violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, however, are not covered in the ban.

Castillo said the administrative complaint that lawyer Reymelio Delute has filed against city officials is not a violation of the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”

Rama, acting mayor Edgardo Labella and City Councilors Nestor Archival Sr., Mary Ann de los Santos, David Tumulak, Nendell Hanz Abella, Sisinio Andales, Alvin Arcilla, Roberto Cabarrubias, Ma. Nida Cabrera, Gerardo Carillo, Alvin Dizon, Eugenio Gabuya Jr., and Noel Wen-ceslao were charged with grave misconduct and abuse of authority before the Office of the President.

Delute filed the complaint after the respondents allowed the distribution of P20,000 calamity assistance to 4,200 City Hall officials and employees in December 2013.

“Securing the approval of the Commission is very difficult na because today (yesterday) is January 14. Assuming for argument’s sake that there is really that suspension, when in truth and in fact we are confident that there is none, still it will not be implemented because it is already within the prohibited period,” Castillo said.

Castillo said the Comelec has tedious process in securing approval from its office like submission of a formal complaint for the request, certified true copy of the decision, among others.

“Duha ra ang exempted if anti-graft or those implemented before the start of the period. It must continue. Unya wala may na-implement?” Castillo said.

He also cited Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code which states that there will be no suspension of any local elective official without prior authority from the Comelec except when such suspension is for the purpose of applying the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Further, Section 62 (c) of the Local Government Code of 1991 pertains to the prohibition on the imposition of preventive suspension within 90 days immediately prior to any election.

Castillo said the 90-day suspension ban will start on February 8, the day Rama will also complete his 60-day preventive suspension for ordering the demolition of a median structure in Barangay Labangon.

“I’m really confident that we will win because we presented a very good case during the trial. How we established the case, how we presented our witnesses, our documents,” Castillo said. (FREEMAN)

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