Bulacan mayor reclaims post after SC reverses his dismissal by Ombudsman
NORZAGARAY, Bulacan – Dismissed Mayor Alfredo Germar reclaimed his post on Friday (Nov. 23) after the Supreme Court in October nullified his removal and perpetual ban from office for hiring six consultants without the municipal approval.
Germar was accompanied by hundreds of supporters when he went to the municipal hall where Mayor Ade Cristobal stepped down in a formal turnover ceremony facilitated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Germar was reelected in 2016 but the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed him a month later for the allegedly anomalous hiring of consultants Mamerto Manahan, Danilo Leonardo, Edilberto Guballa, Rodolfo Santos, Epifanio Payumo and Enrique Boticario during his first term in 2013.
Former mayor Feliciano Legaspi filed the complaint on Oct. 24, 2014.
Found guilty of grave misconduct, the Ombudsman dismissed Germar, forfeited his retirement benefits, and slapped him with a perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Cristobal, who was elected vice mayor, succeeded Germar.
Germar appealed the Ombudsman order but the Court of Appeals affirmed his dismissal.
But in an Oct. 1 decision, the Supreme Court’s Second Division reversed the Ombudsman and the appellate court, concluding that consultancy services under the Office of the Mayor were approved in the council’s 2013 budget ordinance.
“That an authorization from the Sangguniang Bayan which is separate from the appropriation ordinance for the fiscal year 2013 is not warranted. Germar’s action of entering into contracts of professional service with the 6 consultants could not be considered as a transgression of an established and definite rule of action, nor could it be considered as a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, or an unlawful behavior,” the SC decision states.
“Neither is there any willful intent to violate the law nor any willful intent to disregard established rules, for clearly, Germar’s actions were within the parameters of the law pursuant to the specific line-item found in the approved appropriations ordinance,” it says.
The DILG received the High Court’s decision on Oct. 18 but enforced it only on Friday.
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