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Admin probe vs Rama a go despite civil case

(The Freeman) - February 2, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The formal investigation into the administrative complaint of Labangon Barangay Captain Victor Buendia against suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama can proceed even if the court has not ruled on the civil case yet.

This was the order of Department of Interior and Local Government hearing officer Isidro Barrios III after he denied the motion filed by Rama’s lawyers to defer the administrative proceedings on the ground of prejudicial question.

Barrios also referred to the Office of the President the motion filed by the Rama’s camp to lift the mayor’s 60-day preventive suspension. The suspension will end next week.

During the investigation yesterday, Barrios said Rama’s lawyers failed to include their justification that there is a prejudicial question on their motion to dismiss, which was denied last month.

Barrios said he will issue a written order denying the motion to defer the administrative proceedings today.

Rama’s lawyers, Jerone Castillo, Mikel Rama, Floro Casas, Jr., and Jasper Pelayo, argued that there are three issues that have to be settled by the court on the civil complaint before the administrative proceedings can proceed.

They said the court has yet to rule whether or not the median structure in Labangon that Rama ordered demolished was a nuisance per se; if Rama’s order directing the city’s Prevention Restoration, Order, Beautification, Enhancement head Raquel Arce to remove and clear the structure was valid; and if the order of Fernando Cruz, district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways 7, to have the structure removed immediately was valid.

“It would be absurd if there would be conflicting decisions by the court and this office,” said Mikel, Rama’s son.

Castillo has asked that the administrative proceedings be deferred until the Regional Trial Court decides on the civil case Buendia’s camp also filed against Rama. The civil case was filed ahead of the administrative complaint.

Buendia’s lawyer, Benjamin Militar, argued that the administrative complaint is independent from that of the civil complaint.

Militar said Buendia asked for different penalties against Rama separately for the administrative and civil complaints.

Militar said Buendia wants Rama to restore the structure and pay for the damages to Barangay Labangon in the civil complaint.

Buendia’s camp will present two witnesses in the investigation today. — /JMO (FREEMAN)

ACIRC ADMINISTRATIVE BARANGAY LABANGON BENJAMIN MILITAR BUENDIA CEBU CITY MAYOR MICHAEL RAMA CIVIL DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS FERNANDO CRUZ RAMA
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