Ombudsman finds Garcia, 5 others guilty of misconduct
(The Freeman) - August 9, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Former Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia and five councilors were found guilty of grave misconduct for consenting to an act tantamount to usurpation of authority allegedly committed by Garcia's appointee when he was still mayor.

The Office of the Ombudsman said the assumption of Emmylou Cabonilas as secretary of the Municipal Council was invalid because the one who appointed her, Garcia, was not allowed to do so, therefore, her subsequent act as executive secretary was tantamount to usurpation of authority.

"This is a clear usurpation of authority which is tantamount to grave misconduct on the part of Cabonilas. The act of consenting to respondent Cabonila's act makes the other respondents liable for the offense," the Ombudsman said.

Even before the case reached the Ombudsman, the Cebu Provincial Board has suspended Garcia also for the "illegal" designation, saying only the vice mayor has the authority to do so.

Aside from Garcia, the Ombudsman also dismissed councilors Ricardo Boquecosa, Ricardo Condes, Eliezer Amadora, Meriam Llaño, and Antonio Garcia from service.

The case against them was filed by Garcia's former vice mayor, now Mayor Efren Gica, councilor Joshua Dacumos, and Nerio Aquino, Gica's appointee as Municipal Council secretary.

The complainants alleged that when Cabonilas replaced Aquino as council secretary after the Civil Service Commission invalidated Aquino's appointment, Garcia and the councilors falsified a resolution of the council, which approved the appropriation ordinance.

They allegedly did so by making it appear that it was the council's 18th resolution when, in fact, it was not assigned a number since it was not actually submitted to the council, as a body, for action.  The resolution was passed on December 26, 2013 when Garcia asked for a special session.

The complainants also alleged that Gica's signature is not in the resolution to make it appear that the vice mayor refused to perform his duty to rectify the ordinance enacted even though he had been requesting for a copy of it so that he could do exactly that.

Garcia denied there were entries in the ordinance that were falsified.  He claimed he did not even participate in the council's proceeding because the same is not under his control and supervision.

He countered that Gica refused to certify the appropriation ordinance and other resolutions because Gica wanted to install Aquino as secretary.

Garcia said he only affixed his signature after the councilors present at the special session attested to its veracity and Cabonilas certified it to be correct. The councilors would eventually get impleaded in the complaint.

The Ombudsman, however, ruled in Gica's favor.

The Ombudsman said, "True, complainant Aquino's appointment was eventually invalidated by the CSC-Cebu South Field Office but the ruling was still appealed to the CSC Regional office and such appeal was still pending as of December 26 2013, when the resolution was passed."

Since the invalidation of his appointment was not yet final at that time, Aquino and not Cabonilas held the right as secretary to sign the resolution, the Ombudsman said.

Reaction

Garcia said he has not yet received a copy of the Ombudsman order but described it as "unfair." He said it was his right to appoint an interim SB secretary since the post was vacant that time, in accordance to Section 80 of the Local Government Code.

 "Klaro kaayo nga naa koy katungod. Ang iya nuong kaso nga malversation of funds nga pila na ka tuig, wala gyud gilihok sa Ombudsman. Nya kani hinuon, maoy ilang gitagaan ug due course which is para nako unfair kaayo na sa akoa," he said.

 "Unsang kasoha nga gi-dismiss ta nga right man na sa chief executive to open a vacant position? Ug wa nako gi-open ang position, nganong siya (Gica) may mo-open wa man siyay katungod," he added.

 Garcia claimed that the case was a product of a false and malicious accusation from his political nemesis, Gica.

 "Kanang kasuha, puro butang-butang. Klaro kaayo nga kini pamulitika nga ilang gibuhat diri kanato kay number one ang asawa sa konsehal naa nagtrabaho," he said.

 Garcia was supposed to serve his last term but lost to Gica who garnered 15, 577 over his votes of 10, 631 in the recent polls.

Garcia ran and won against Gica in 2010. In 2013, Garcia again defended his post from challenger, former mayor Cesar Baricuatro whose running mate, Gica, clinched the vice mayoral post.

 It has not been a smooth-sailing relationship between the mayor and the vice mayor. Gica and Garcia lodged several complaints against each other before the Provincial Board. Last year, Garcia was suspended for six months for grave abuse of authority, which stemmed from a complaint filed by Gica.

 Gica, for his part, said, "Lipay gamay. In the same way naguol sad because dili sayun ang ma-penalize og sama niini nga penalty perpetual disqualification from holding any office from government," he said.  (FREEMAN)

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