Freeman Region

DILG-8 comments Mercado not officially back as Southern Leyte government

Miriam Garcia Desacada - The Freeman

MAASIN CITY, Philippines —  Dismissed Governor Damian Mercado of Southern Leyte still has “no official function in the Capitol” despite getting a Court of Appeals (CA) decision reversing the dismissal order of the Office of the Ombudsman against him.


This was the declaration of DILG-Region 8 Director Marivel Sacendoncillo on Friday when asked if Mercado has reassumed his post as governor, after he was seen attending the flag-raising ceremony at the Capitol on August 6.

Sacendoncillo said the Solicitor General has filed a motion for reconsideration over the CA’s reversal of the dismissal order, and this is now pending in that court for resolution. Unless, there is a final decision on the motion, “Mercado is not yet qualified to officially return to his post as chief executive of Southern Leyte,” she said.

"I don’t think Mercado take can get an early favorable decision, considering that it may still go to a lot of legal remedies on the part of the Solicitor General. Unless gawin ng CA na priority case ito,” Sacendoncillo opined.

The DILG regional official said this was the reason why her office did not enforce the reversal decision of the CA due to motion for reconsideration from the Office of the Solicitor General.

Mercado’s presence during the Capitol’s flag ceremony that day, “does not mean he was already discharging officially his function as governor,” Sacendoncillo told The Freeman and The Philippine Star.

"Nobody can bar any Filipino from entering any public office. In the case of Mercado, he was just there in the Capitol maybe to tell the employees that he won his case in the CA. He did not violate any law,” she said.

The Ombudsman dismissed Mercado from his post as governor in September last year, after its August 10 decision finding him liable for grave misconduct over an ‘anomalous’ P2.3-million purchase of three second-hand vehicles, including his own car, in 2007 when he was still mayor of Maasin City.

Mercado then elevated the case to the CA, invoking the Aguinaldo Doctrine, and succeeded in obtaining a CA decision reversing his dismissal.

On June 25 this year, Mercado ‘re-assumed’ his post, claiming that the CA also denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Ombudsman against the reversal order. The following day however he recalled the memorandum declaring his re-assumption as governor.

Since then, he returned to the Capitol only on August 6, saying he is back as governor. “He was warmly welcomed by the employees during the regular Monday’s flag ceremony,” according to a report from the Southern Leyte Times.

He even delivered a speech before the Capitol workers, saying, “he only wanted to attend the flag ceremony. I will not comment on the case anymore, Let them comment.”

After the ceremony however, in a media interview, he said: “The CA has denied the motion for reconsideration. I don’t need an order from the DILG to re-assume my post as governor. My lawyer said it is already okay for me to reassume.”

Governor Cristopher Yap, who was then the vice governor when he took over the Capitol after Mercado’s dismissal, was not present during the ceremony. He was also unavailable for comment on Mercado’s declaration.

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