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Panglao councilors put dismissed mayor back into post without DILG order

By: - Correspondent / @leoudtohanINQ
/ 01:28 AM September 11, 2018
Pedro Fuertes

Panglao Vice Mayor Pedro Fuertes assumed office as acting mayor of Panglao town, Bohol on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. (Photo by LEO UDTOHAN / Inquirer Visayas)

PANGLAO, Bohol — Members of the Panglao Municipal Council in Bohol decided to take matter into their hands.

Through a mere resolution, the councilors reinstalled embattled Panglao Mayor Leonila Paredes-Montero, who had been ordered dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman for violating a ban on appointing defeated candidates.

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But Mayor Pedro Fuertes refused to step down to be the vice mayor, saying he would wait for an order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which installed him to the higher post.

Fuertes holds office on second floor, while Montero’s office is on the ground floor.

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The Municipal Local Government Operations Office declined to issue a statement and referred the matter to DILG central office.

On Oct. 24, 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered Montero’s suspension for three months for simple misconduct for appointing four defeated candidates less than a year after losing in the elections – violating the one-year ban on the appointment of a candidate who lost in the elections.

But the anti-graft office upgraded to grave misconduct the charges against Montero, even before she had completed her three-month suspension.

On Jan. 19, 2018, the Ombudsman ordered her dismissal.

Montero sought relief at the Court of Appeals, which issued on June 28 of the same year an order affirming her three-month suspension. The court set aside her dismissal.

Since she had served her suspension, Montero said she could already resume her functions as mayor.

On Monday, she showed up during the regular session of the council and asked its members to recognize her return to the office and restore her as signatory of all bank transactions of the municipality.

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“I would to request this august body to pass a resolution acknowledging and confirming my assumption and reinstituting me as one of the signatories of all bank and other official transactions for all intents and purposes to this municipality,” Montero said in her privilege speech.

The council passed a resolution in mass motion, affirming her reinstatement as mayor despite the absence of a DILG order.

But Montero said her instatement was valid under Section 46 of the Local Government Code.

The code’s section 46b provides that the temporary incapacity of a local chief executive can be terminated on submission to the appropriate sanggunian of a written declaration that he has reported back to office.

“In cases where the temporary incapacity is due to legal causes, the local chief executive concerned shall also submit necessary documents showing that said legal causes no longer exist,” the provision says.

Montero said she was reporting back to a post where she was duly elected by her constituents.

Fuertes refused to step down, however, in the absence of an order from DILG, which had installed him as mayor.

He described the resolution passed by the council as “ultra vires,” which means “beyond one’s legal authority or power.”

“It is not their jobs as legislators to reinstate a mayor,” Fuertes stressed.

When asked comment, Augustin Cloribel, who filed the complaint against Montero, said he was surprised by Montero’s “extreme eagerness” to return to office.

He stressed that the decision of the appelate court on the case was not yet final since the Court of Appeals had not decided on his motion for reconsideration that he filed on July 18.

Montero’s petition for review of the Ombudsman’s decision was currently pending at the CA’s Special 12th Division. /atm

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TAGS: ban on appointing defeated candidates, DILG, Leonila Paredes Montero, Office of the Ombudsman, Panglao mayor, Panglao Municipal Council, Pedro Fuertes
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