7 hurt as Bulacan town mayoral dispute turns violent
NORZAGARAY, Bulacan—A stand-off between the suspended mayor and his temporary replacement turned ugly on Thursday after their supporters clashed as word spread that the Ombudsman’s order on the suspension would be enforced.
Cooler heads pacified the crowd, but not after the clash injured seven women who claimed they were standing guard outside the municipal hall at 4 a.m. to protect Mayor Feliciano Legaspi.
Councilor Helen Viola of Barangay Bitungol said she and the women decided to guard the town hall after hearing reports that Vice Mayor Rogelio Santos intended to enter the mayor’s office at night.
A group allegedly supporting Santos arrived and tried to enter the hall, starting a melee that injured Rosa Dinola, Babyruth Veril, Aida Rojas, Gina Perez, Marilou Torio, Amoriana Abellana and Angeles Brazil.
At a local police station, the women, who suffered bruises, accused the bodyguard of a politician of leading the melee. The politician supposedly accompanied Santos in his takeover attempt.
Santos was allowed to enter the town hall later in the morning for a dialogue with Legaspi.
Santos was supposed to replace Legaspi, who was suspended for six months on Nov. 19, 2012 by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for grave abuse of authority for demoting his municipal budget officer to market administrator.
Morales ruled in favor of budget Officer Yolanda Ervas, saying in a decision that “such reassignment, to be valid, must not involve a reduction in rank, status or salary.”
Darwin David, Bulacan director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, said the suspension order was served on Dec. 12, 2012 to the municipal human resources office.
But Legaspi refused to relinquish his post. He said the suspension order should have been served to him personally.
“I will step down, I will follow instructions. That’s an easy task. But they should first prove that the directive to suspend me is legal and justified,” he said. Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon