Administrative charges were filed by the Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) against Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero arising from her trip to Cebu City without securing travel authority from the governor.
The administrative complaint which was filed before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) accused Montero of violating Sec. 96(b) of R.A. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code, R.A. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and R.A. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Provincial legal officer Atty. Nilo Ahat filed the complaint on behalf of the BIATF.
The complaint alleged that Montero violated the Local Government Code when she travelled to Cebu City on September 14 and 15 without securing first a travel authority from the governor, which is a requirement under Sec. 96(b) of said code.
Sec. 96(b) states that mayors of component cities and municipalities shall secure the permission of the governor for any travel outside the province.
Said rule is reinforced by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular No. 2019-82, dated May 29, 2019, which specifies guidelines on the local travel of local government officials and employees, stating that the official local travels of mayors for less than 30 days and payment of their corresponding travel expenses requires the approval of the governor.
The complaint further accused Montero of misrepresenting to the BIATF that she sent a letter to Gov. Arthur Yap requesting for such travel authorization. However, it was found out that said letter was not actually sent to the governor but to the municipal DILG office.
The complaint also alleged that Montero failed to observe established health protocols and guidelines set by the BIATF to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during her travel to Cebu City and that she allegedly tried to cover up her violations by securing and presenting fabricated certifications.
Accordingly, Montero also violated Provincial Ordinance No. 2020-022 when she did not follow quarantine protocols upon her return to Bohol from Cebu City.
Under Sec. 60 to Sec. 68 of the Local Government Code, administrative complaints against elected municipal officials may be filed before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) concerned. But while the administrative case is being investigated or heard by the SP, the governor may impose a preventive suspension against the respondent-municipal official.
It may be recalled that a separate criminal complaint was filed by the BIATF against Montero for violation of said provincial ordinance.
Said criminal complaint was initially filed before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Bohol but was later forwarded to the Ombudsman – Visayas where said case is now pending. (KB)