PB hearing on Montero health protocol case postponed amid procedural lapse

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PB hearing on Montero health protocol case postponed amid procedural lapse

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The Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s Committee on Good Government, Justice and Human Rights conducts its preliminary conference on the administrative case filed against Panglao Mayor Nila Montero for alleged breach of health protocol. | Photo: via PDRRMO chief Anthony Damalerio

The Provincial Board (PB) committee hearing on the administrative complaint against Panglao Mayor Nila Montero for her alleged breach of health protocol has been deferred due to a procedural lapse, said lawyer Nilo Ahat, the legal head of the Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) which filed the case against the chief executive.

Montero is facing an administrative complaint for her alleged health protocol violation which stemmed from her failure to secure a travel authority from the BIATF under Governor Art Yap when she travelled to Cebu in September last year amid the implementation of tight travel restrictions due to the persisting pandemic.

Ahat, during a preliminary conference led by the PB’s Committee on Good Government, Justice and Human Rights on Tuesday, said that the legislative body failed to issue to Montero a “notice to answer” the complaint filed against her.   

“Nalaktawan ang usa ka proseso na maoy pinaka importante, without which dili maka proceed ang ubang proseso,” said Ahat. “Ma null and void ang proceeding kay ma-violate ang iyang constitutional right to be informed, ang due process pud.”

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The notice would have given jurisdiction to the PB over Montero’s administrative case, he added.

Montero’s camp had earlier questioned the PB’s jurisdiction over the proceedings but Ahat noted that once the notice is served to the mayor, the legislative body would be able to oversee the hearing of the case.

“Og mo ingon og legal jurisdication, naa man g’yud na because, in this case, ang jurisdiction sa SP (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) over the mayor is conferred by the Local Government Code, pero ang question is na-acquire na ba ang jurisdiction which is done through the service of the summon,” said Ahat.

Ahat said that it was the BIATF, as complainant, that raised the issue so as not to jeopardize the proceedings due to the procedural lapse.

Montero, who also attended the preliminary conference with her legal counsel Johnson Hontanosas at the SP Session Hall, was told that the hearing will proceed once she submits her response to the complaint within 30 days after receiving the notice.

She was supposed to submit her reply within 15 days but her camp requested for an extension due to her “busy” schedule.

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“Fifteen days unta to, pero di kuno mada og 15 days kay daghan og trabaho so okay ra mi 30 ka adlaw,” Ahat said.

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In September last year, Montero along with several companions travelled to Cebu from Bohol for an official travel without authority from the governor which, according to Ahat, is a requirement even without the pandemic restrictions as stipulated in Section 96 of the Local Government Code.

A criminal complaint was also filed against Montero for the same violation before the Bohol Provincial Prosecutor’s Office but this was later referred to the Office of the Ombudsman. (R. Tutas)

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