DILG: Montero’s re-assumption premature, Fuertes is mayor

Fuertes and Montero|FILE PHOTO

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – Regional Office VII declared that the re-assumption to the office of dismissed Panglao Mayor Leonila “Nila” Montero on Monday, September 10, 2018, is “premature.”

The five-page memorandum issued on September 14, 2018 addressed incumbent Mayor Pedro Fuertes as “acting mayor” also directed the DILG Provincial Office to “ensure that respondent Mayor Montero continuously serves the penalty of dismissal with all its accessory penalties” based on the Ombudsman (OMB) Joint Order dated January 19, 2018 “unless directed otherwise by a competent court.”

Montero was meted out the penalty of dismissal from the service, canceled her eligibility, forfeited her retirement benefits and imposed the penalty of perpetual disqualification to hold public office. 

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OPEN DEFIANCE 

But Montero vowed in public that she will “defy” the DILG memorandum claiming that the order is bereft of legality since it is not a court of law.

The statement of the ousted mayor met mounting criticism from radio listeners who phoned in their reactions during yesterday’s Inyong Alagad program of station dyRD.

The DILG, established on March 22, 1897, assist the President in the exercise of general supervision over local governments and establish and prescribe rules, regulations and other issuances implementing laws on public order and safety.

Apparently overlooked by the DILG, the “acting mayor” title accorded to Fuertes was inadvertently a typographical lapse, according to DILG Provincial Director John Joan Mende during an interview with DYRD Balita.

The memo did not touch on the controversial Resolution passed by the Sangguniang Bayan of Panglao confirming and acknowledging the reassumption of Montero as mayor of Panglao and authorizing her as the official signatory of the checking account and other financial transactions of the Local Government Unit (LGU).

MEDIA HYPE

After assailing the CA for their ambiguous decision that has allegedly caused chaos in the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Panglao, Montero pinned the blame on media for its “hocus-pocus” reporting of her questionable take-over of the mayorship occupied by Fuertes due to her dismissal. 

The DILG memo, signed by DILG Regional Director Leocadio Trovela detailed the sequence of events from the suspension of Montero leading to the filing of a  motion for reconsideration (MR) by Augustin Cloribel which still remains to be resolved by the Court of Appeals (CA) Special Twelfth Division.

UNRESOLVED 

MOTIONS

The memo was anchored on the Cloribel MR opposing the decision of the CA setting aside the dismissal order of the OMB for grave misconduct and reinstating the original OMB decision suspending Montero for three months without pay for simple misconduct.

The DILG, however, remained silent on the Urgent Motion for Clarification and/or Reconsideration filed before the CA 12th Division by Montero alleging that the decision although rendered in her favor, has caused chaos, confusion, and pandemonium in Panglao.

LEGAL 

OBSTACLES

The DILG disagreed with Montero’s position that there is no “legal impediment” for her to re-assume her former position as mayor since she has served the three-month suspension imposed by the OMB.

One month before her planned re-assumption of office, Montero wrote DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Ano on August 9, 2018, of her “intent to re-assume her position as municipal mayor of the municipality of Panglao effective immediately until otherwise ordered by the courts to desist from performing her duties as municipal mayor.”

Montero explained that her dismissal order by the Ombudsman has been overturned by the Court of Appeals (CA) Special Twelfth Division and the original 90-days without pay suspension decision of the Ombudsman “reinstated.”

DIFFERENT

RULES

Montero believed that she has the legal basis to re-assume her position since she has served her suspension order citing section 12 of rule 43 of the Revised Rules of Court that an appeal shall not stay the award, judgment, final order or resolution to be reviewed unless the CA shall direct such terms as it may deem just.

However, the DILG secured a certification from Atty. Celedonia M. Ogsimer, Division Clerk of Court of the CA 12th Division on August 28, 2018, that a motion for reconsideration (MR) was filed by Augustin Cloribel over the CA decision downgrading the dismissal order to suspension.

With the Cloribel MR still pending resolution, the DILG invoked Rule 52 of the Rules of Court stating that the pendency of an MR filed on time shall stay the execution of the final resolution of the judgment unless directed by the court.

RULES OF

PROCEDURE

The latest information released by the CA 12th Division, addressed to both Montero and Cloribel concerned the status of their two MR’s.

Both MR’s was noted and submitted for resolution even as Montero prayed that the CA order the DILG to reinstate her as mayor immediately and order Fuertes to cease and desist from performing the functions and duties of the mayor and vacate the mayor’s office.

In effect, the DILG memo respected the process of the CA to resolve first the pending MR’s of both Montero and Cloribel before rendering their final verdict.(Chito M. Visarra)



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