Ombudsman orders dismissal; Pilar mayor cries foul: ‘too harsh’

The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) has ordered the dismissal from the service of Pilar Mayor Necitas Cubrado after finding her guilty of grave misconduct.

The penalty of dismissal from the service carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

Asked to comment on the Ombudsman ruling, Mayor Cubrado cried foul saying the penalty was “too harsh.”

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In a text message she sent to the Chronicle, the lady mayor said “no other comment for that issue as of now.. as you read that decision from the Ombudsman  its too harsh.. so its worth fighting for. God bless & more power.”

Supporters of Mayor Cubrado said legal remedies will be taken including the filing of an appeal to the Ombudsman’s decision. 

“This is a product of a heated political battle with her former opponent in the mayoralty race, Wilson Pajo,” a supporter said.

Case records showed that on Aug. 22, 2015, Cubrado authorized the issuance of a certificate granting exemptions to several residents of the municipality from paying fees for the electrical connection of their homes.

“Being the Chief Executive of the Municipality, respondent evidently overstepped the scope of her authority and encroached upon the powers and prerogatives of the Sanguniang Bayan when she granted exemptions to some residents, without, however, securing the prior approval of the SB thereby deliberately disregarding the provisions of the [Local Government Code],” the Ombudsman said in its resolution.

As a result of this illegal issuance, the Ombudsman also ordered the filing before the Sandiganbayan of one count of violation of usurpation of legislative powers against Cubrado.

Likewise, the Ombudsman ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Office of the Governor of Bohol to implement the dismissal order.
 

Reports from Pilar said there was no movement at the town hall nor any indication of the lady mayor vacating her post already.

SUPPORTERS BEHIND MAYOR CUBRADO

Supporters of Mayor Cubrado said legal measures were already taken to stop the dismissal order.

One avid supporter said that through her lawyer Claro B. Flores, the mayor argued that there’s lacking essential elements of usurpation of legislative power “because she did not make general rules or regulations beyond the scope of her authority, or attempt to repeal a law or suspend its execution.”

In an earlier statement prior her suspension, she said in granting the exemptions to some residents of this town from paying the municipal fees for electrical connection with Boheco II, without securing the prior approval of the Sanggunaing Bayan, she did not issue rules nor issued an executive order to effect such grant.

The mayor thru her executive assistant issued a certification on August 27, 2017 for the said beneficiaries to be  exempt from paying such fees to avail of the Nationwide Intensification of Household Electrification Program of the Department of Energy.

“The certification did not partake of the nature of a general rule or regulation. Neither did its issuance constitute an attempt to repeal a law or suspend its execution as it was not its stated purpose. Indeed the certification categorically stated that it was issued to support the application of the said beneficiaries for household Intensification program.”

The mayor cited SB Resolution No. 56, series of 2016, unanimously approved on March 21, 2016, “To approve the 95 beneficiaries of the Nationwide Intensification of Household Electrification Program” of the municipality and at the same time approving the waiving of all municipal fees and charges related to the energization of these ninety five households beneficiaries.”

Cubrado also said that the Ombudsman “overlooked certain facts which, if considered, would result in a finding that there is no substantial evidence for grave misconduct against” her.

She cited the following facts support her claims: the electrification program was already carried out in 2015; Resolution No. 135, s. 2012, authorizing the municipal engineer to waive the collection of electrification fee, building permits and other related fees; she issued the said cerification to support the power connection to 95 beneficiaries; she wrote  letter to the vice-mayor requesting SB to waive the said municipal fees of the household application for electrification program; SB Resolution No. 56 approving the 95 beneficiaries.

In her argument, the mayor also said that her reelection in May 9, 2016 “operated as a condonation  of the alleged administrative infraction and extinguished her administrative liability, if any, prior to the finality on May 13, 2016 of the Supreme Court en banc’s decision abandoning the condonation doctrine.”

Cubrado defeated Vice-mayor Wilson Pajo in mayoralty race in 2016. Pajo is one of the complainants of the case.

In her motion for reconsideration, Cubrado cited that the SC’s abandonment of the ‘condonation doctrine’ is prospective, meaning the material dates of the commission of the alleged administrative infraction, the reelection of the concerned public official and the finality of the decision (of abandoning the said doctrine) have to be considered.

The mayor’s alleged commission of the administrative violation (grave misconduct) took place on August 27, 2015 while she was the mayor of Pilar; she was reelected on May 9, 2016; and finality of the SC’s decision abandoning the condonation doctrine was on May 13, 2016 as indicated in the Entry of Judgment issued by the said court.

Cubrado concluded that she “is entitled to a reconsideration of the Resolution approved by the Ombudsman on July 5, 2017, which found substantial evidence to hold her guilty of grave misconduct and meted on her the penalty of dismissal from the service with all accessory penalties and to a dismissal of the administrative complaint filed against her.”

Complainants of the case in OMB-V-A-16-0006 “grave misconduct” and “usurpation of legislative power” are then Vice-Mayor Wilson Pajo, Nicanor Mante, Eugenio Galleza, Cipriano Ellorimo, Saturnina Rodriguez, Tita Salazar, Misael Hilot and Wilfredo Bernante.

 



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