The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Bohol has served the suspension order against Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero, who is facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan, on Friday afternoon.
According to DILG Bohol director Johnjoan Mende, the order was personally received by Montero at her residence in Panglao at around 4:30 p.m.The order was relayed from the DILG’s regional office in Cebu to Tagbilaran City via ferry, arriving at past 3 p.m.
The suspension took effect upon Montero’s receipt of the order.
Montero, who will be undergoing a 90-day preventive suspension, welcomed the serving of the order and willingly signed the directive.
“Mao kuno iyang [Montero] gipaabot aron makapahuway pud siya. Iyang gi-welcome ang pag-abot sa maong order,” said Mende.
Montero is temporarily replaced by Vice Mayor Briccio Velasco who now sits as acting mayor.
“By operation of law, automatic na ang [pagpuli],” Mende said.
The acting vice mayor will supposedly be the first councilor, who is Dodong Alcala, but he will still need an official designation from President Duterte through DILG Sec. Edgardo Año, Mende added, based on Administrative Order 15 of the DILG.
The Sangguniang Bayan, which is dominated by allies of Montero, can elect a temporary presiding officer to replace Velasco.
The Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division ordered the mandatory 90-day preventive suspension of Montero pending the investigation on her case, pursuant to Section 13 of Republic Act 3019.
Montero is facing four counts of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and another four counts of Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code, also known as Unlawful Appointment.
The cases stemmed from her appointment of four defeated candidates in the 2013 elections namely Noel Homarchuelos, municipal administrator; Danilo Reyes, public information consultant; Apolinar Fudalan, IT consultant; and Fernando Penales, engineering consultant less than a year after the polls. Each of them were paid a salary of P25,000 per month.
The act defied the one-year ban in the appointment of losing candidates under the Local Government Code. (with RT)