Freeman Region

Panglao mayoralty row: Montero assails DILG memo as ‘unlawful’

Ric V. Obedencio - The Freeman

PANGLAO, BOHOL, Philippines — Employees of the municipal government of Panglao in Bohol are now confused on who will to follow between Leonila Montero and Pedro Fuertes as the “rightful” mayor of this tourism town.

Political tension still gripped Panglao due to the clash between the two, each of whom is declaring as mayor of the town, and armed with legal basis in their arguments.

Fuertes is being recognized by the Department of Interior and Local Government as the “full-fledged” mayor, replacing Montero who was earlier dismissed from the post by the Ombudsman via joint order no. OMB-V-A-0284 last January 19.

DILG-Bohol Director Johnjoan Mende last September 17 served the memorandum, signed by DILG-7 Regional Director Leocadio Trovelo, to Montero declaring Fuertes as the mayor of Panglao. The memo stated that Montero’s re-assumption as mayor is “premature,” and that she should “continue serving the penalty of dismissal.”

Montero assailed the DILG memorandum, saying it “tries to unseat her from being a newly-reassumed mayor,” and that it has “bias and partiality, illegality and anomaly…”

The Ombudsman suspended Montero, and later on dismissal from service, for appointing the defeated councilors in her line-up in 2013, in violation of the one-year ban on appointing defeated candidates, except for those running for barangay positions.

Montero argued that she must retake the top post of Panglao as its duly elected mayor, after the Court of Appeals ruled in her favor setting aside the Ombudsman verdict of her dismissal. The CA only upheld her three-month suspension, a penalty that she already served.

Fuertes however countered, telling the local media that there should be legal sanction imposed against Montero for her continued defiance of the DILG order.

While Fuertes is sitting as mayor, Montero also continues to act as mayor after her re-assumption to the post, with the Municipal Council Resolution No. 226, which unanimously approved and acknowledged her as the legitimate mayor. There were some councilors however who refused to sign the resolution.

Montero and Fuertes each spoke before the municipal employees following the flag raising ceremony in front of the Municipal Hall on Monday last week. In the afternoon that same day, the DILG memo was served on Montero and Fuertes, who was declared and installed as mayor.

Fuertes recently said that Montero’s defiance of the legal order is not normal and not right. He issued office memos to all department heads to get rid of what he called as “pretending” to be employees, referring to Montero’s appointment of some 20 casual workers.

If Montero’s appointed ones continue to work, they won’t be paid, Fuertes warned, as he also planned to disseminate information to barangay officials regarding his being the “full-fledged” and legal mayor, and to dispel perceptions that Montero is the mayor.

In an earlier media interview, Fuertes said he will only step down as mayor if there is a Supreme Court order to that effect.  Montero and Fuertes both won in 2016 elections as mayor and vice-mayor, respectively. But this time their relationship turned sour and they will probably slug it out for the mayoralty in the May 2019 mid-term elections. (FREEMAN)

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