CA upholds Ombuds first ruling Panglao mayor ‘guilty of simple misconduct’
Ric V. Obedencio (The Freeman) - July 19, 2018 - 12:00am

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the original Ombudsman ruling that found Panglao town Mayor Leonila Montero guilty of simple misconduct, and not the second ruling of “grave misconduct” with a penalty of dismissal from service.”

 

The CA said the Ombudsman was, in its first ruling, correct in finding Montero guilty only of simple misconduct for the latter’s violation of section 6, Article IX-B of the 1987 Constitution, when she “appointed to a government office a candidate who lost in an election, within a year after such election.”

Montero, who was elected mayor in 2013 elections, appointed Noel Hormachuelos as municipal administrator or consultant; Danilo Reyes as public information officer; Apolinar Fudalan as employment coordinator or TESDA IT consultant; and Fernando Penales as consultant in infrastructure and engineering services. “All of them were candidates who lost in the May 2013 election.”

It was learned that their appointments were without Municipal Council’s authority and without corresponding budget. But later on, the Council approved four resolutions authorizing their appointments “on a job order basis.”

The case stemmed from the filing of complaint by Augustin Cloribel against Montero before the Ombudsman on August 14, 2015 for alleged grave misconduct, negligence and conduct prejudicial to the service.

On October 24, 2017, the Ombudsman ruled that Montero is only guilty of simple misconduct, but after Cloribel filed a motion for reconsideration, the Ombudsman then ruled, on January 19 this year, that Montero is guilty of grave misconduct. The case was then elevated to the CA.

Montero then argued that the Ombudsman “gravely erred in ruling that she committed “grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service,” but without considering the factual and legal considerations, which she said was “tantamount to a denial of due process.”

In reinstating the original penalty, the CA on June 28 this year ruled that “records also do not substantially show the petitioner’s (Montero’s) propensity to violate the provision on prohibition.”

It further said that “the hiring of Hormachuelos, Reyes, Fudalan and Penales alone does not show that the petitioner had the propensity and penchant to violate the law considering that they were all hired on the same date on one occasion and no proof was offered to show that the petitioner repeatedly hired losing candidates after and other than the four.”

“We cannot, therefore, sustain the Ombudsman Joint Order that found the petitioner guilty of grave misconduct as an afterthought,” the CA added.

LEONILA MONTERO
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