Dismissed Cebu town mayor back in office, given chance to defend self
CEBU CITY — A month after he was told to step down as mayor on charges of dishonesty and grave misconduct, Efren Gica was ordered to return to his elective position in Dumanjug town, southern Cebu.
The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas took back the dismissal order issued on Oct. 18, 2016 and implemented last Feb. 15 after the anti-graft office gave weight to the claim of Gica that he was not given due process.
In an order dated Feb. 28, Deputy Ombudsman Paul Elmer Clemente said Gica should be given a chance to submit a counter-affidavit on charges filed against him by his arch rival, former town mayor Nelson Garcia.
“Taking into account respondent’s assertion that he had not received, personally or otherwise, a copy of the Order and its attachments, in the interest of substantial justice and due process, there is necessity to furnish him with the same to accord him the opportunity to refute the charges against him and for a more judicious resolution of the cases,” the order read.
“Consequently, since the assailed resolution and Decision were made without considering respondent’s side on his defense, there is a necessity to vacate the same,” the order added.
The Ombudsman-Visayas earlier found Gica guilty of dishonesty and grave misconduct for allegedly pocketing about P10,000 from a cash advance of P50,000 he obtained when he was still the vice mayor of the southern town.
The Department of Interior and Local Government implemented the Ombudsman’s dismissal order on Feb. 15.
Although he complied with the order to step down, Gica maintained that he was unable to present his side nor his own documents to belie Garcia’s charges because he did not receive any summons to file his counter affidavit and position paper.
Gica said the charges against him were decided based on a mere technicality.
On Feb. 23, Acting Assistant Ombudsman-Visayas Carla Juris Tanco took cognizance of the Feb. 6, 2017 supplemental motion for reconsideration which Gica filed.
Clemente approved Tanco’s recommendations on Feb. 28, a copy of which was received by Gica, Del Socorro, Espinoza, Villarmia, Fernandez and Tan law firm that has been representing the mayor.
“Respondent asserted that he should be given substantial justice and due process by allowing him to submit his countervailing evidence. He prayed that a thorough investigation of the case be conducted in order to ferret out the truth and that the parties be ordered to fully present their case,” the order reads.
It added that “the Office finds respondent’s allegations to be impressed with merit.”
Gica was ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman Visayas for allegedly pocketing about P10,000 from a cash advance Gica got from government on April 25, 2014. At that time, he was still the vice mayor of Dumanjug. SFM