People confused on who mayor of Panglao, Bohol is
PANGLAO, Bohol – It’s business as usual in Panglao town even as the people are confused on who is the municipality’s chief executive.
Both Leonila Paredes-Montero and Pedro Fuertes were claiming to be the rightful mayor of the town, which is known for its white sand beach and clear blue waters.
But Sofronio Abing Jr., municipal local government operations officer, said Fuertes was still recognized as the municipal chief executive.
He said an incident report has been submitted to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Central Office on the “reassumption” of Montero.
He said the Municipal Local Government Operations Office has observed a status quo in the absence of a DILG order reinstating Montero.
The DILG installed Fuertes, the town’s vice mayor, as acting mayor after the Ombudsman ordered a three-month suspension on Montero on Oct. 24, 2017, 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 election.
But even before completing the three-month suspension, the anti-graft office upgraded the charge to grave misconduct and ordered her dismissal from service on Jan. 19, 2018.
Montero sought relief from the Court of Appeals which later issued an order on June 28 that affirmed her three-month suspension and set aside her dismissal from service.
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 municipal council and asked the councilors to recognize her return to the office and restore her as a signatory of all bank transactions of the municipality.
“I would like 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 statement 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 could be terminated upon submission to the appropriate sanggunian of a written declaration that he has reported back to the 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 said.
Fuertes, however, refused to step down in the absence of an order from DILG, describing the council’s resolution as “ultra vires” which means “beyond one’s legal authority or power.”
“It is not their jobs as legislators to reinstate a mayor,” he stressed.
Fuertes holds office on the second floor of the municipal hall, while Montero occupies her original office on the ground floor.
On Monday, Montero issued a memorandum to all heads, barangay captains and employees to inform them about her re-assumption of office.
She also called a meeting on Tuesday morning with the stakeholders for a meeting about the demolition of the illegal structures on Alona Beach in Panglao town.
Last March, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu wanted the illegal structures demolished within six months.
Despite the deadline set by Cimatu, the local government of Panglao had yet to issue a demolition order.
But Fuertes said people should not believe her reassumption.
“It’s not true. I asked that you ignore Montero’s memorandum. It should not be followed. I am still the (rightful) municipal mayor,” he said.
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 appellate 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 pending at the CA’s Special 12th Division.
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