Gica appealed the decision before the CA, which reversed the anti-graft office on July 27, 2018. Based on the appellate court ruling, Gica immediately reclaimed his position pending a motion for reconsideration that Garcia filed.
Paul Jun E. Rosaroso
For usurpation of authority: Dumanjug mayor sued
May B. Miasco, Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - February 11, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — For solemnizing at least 17 marriages while his authority is being challenged because of the Ombudsman decision dismissing him from the service, Dumanjug Mayor Efren Guntrano Gica is facing criminal and administrative complaints for alleged usurpation of authority.

The complaint was filed by Gica’s political archrival, former mayor Nelson Gamaliel Garcia.

Garcia said Gica committed usurpation of authority for officiating 17 marriages from August 1 to December 27, 2018 when he was already dismissed from the service.

"The herein respondent unlawfully assumed the duties and functions of the Office of the Municipal Mayor while his dismissal from service was still in effect, taking into consideration that the decision of the CA (Court of Appeals) is not yet final and executory and without any legal order by the duly constituted authorities directing him to assume as municipal mayor, to the prejudice of public interest," read the complaint.

The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas on July 27, 2017 found Gica guilty of dishonesty and grave misconduct. He was meted the penalty of dismissal from service with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

The dismissal order was implemented on December 20, 2017 through a memorandum issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government in Central Visayas.

Cesar Baricuatro, a first member of the Sangguniang Bayan, then assumed the position of municipal mayor.

Gica appealed the decision before the CA, which reversed the anti-graft office on July 27, 2018. Based on the appellate court ruling, Gica immediately reclaimed his position pending a motion for reconsideration that Garcia filed.

Garcia said Gica’s act of reassuming the position despite a pending motion for reconsideration did not only constitutes usurpation of official functions under the Revised Penal Code, it is also grave misconduct, dishonesty, grave abuse of authority, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the public, fraud against government and conduct unbecoming a public officer.

Gica dismissed the complaint as “baseless.”  He said there was no way he committed usurpation of authority.

Gica maintained that he is still Dumanjug mayor and he was merely exercising his authority when he solemnized civil marriages.

He cited a Supreme Court decision that allows him to reassume his post despite a pending motion for reconsideration.

“Check case CIDG vs. Villafuerte. The SC said that the CA ‘has a concomitant responsibility to ensure that, in case of exoneration, such a decision must perforce be immediately executory, notwithstanding an appeal that may be lodged by the Ombudsman with the Court. The Court finds such rule necessary to fulfill the interests of justice and fairness, given that not only the livelihoods of our public servants are at stake, but likewise the efficient operations of government as a whole’,” Gica quoted the court ruling.

Gica said the SC ruling means that the CA decision to reverse and set aside the anti-graft ruling is “immediately executory” even if there is a motion for reconsideration from the Ombudsman.

"That is why I did not step down... Pataka na sad si Nelson (Nelson was wrong),” said Gica. (FREEMAN)

EFREN GUNTRANO GICA
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