Caloocan mayor ignores Ombudsman’s suspension order
“I will not step down as mayor,” Caloocan Mayor Enrico Echiverri said in reaction to an order from the Office of the Ombudsman suspending him for six months along with three other city officials for their alleged failure to remit more than P38 million worth of contributions made by city government employees to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
Speaking to reporters in a press conference at Caloocan City Hall Tuesday morning, Echiverri said that acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro’s order was “utterly baseless, devoid of merit and irregular” since it was based on a “baseless, useless and worthless” complaint.
In the afternoon, Echiverri filed a petition at the Court of Appeals seeking to block the suspension order issued against him.
In a petition for certiorari, Echiverri claimed the antigraft body “committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction” in ordering his suspension.
The complaint against Echiverri was filed by Vice Mayor Edgar Erice, his Liberal Party mate, who said that he was filing it in behalf of the employees at city hall who had not received their GSIS benefits as a result of the nonremittance of contributions.
Based on his complaint, Erice said the city government failed to remit GSIS premium contributions—composed of the personal shares of employees and the city government—from July 1997 to December 2002 and from January 2007 to December 2010. Echiverri was first elected mayor in 2004. His predecessor was Rey Malonzo.
According to Erice, the employees’ compensation shares from July 1997 to December 2004 and from January 2007 to December 2010 were not remitted either.
As of Dec. 31, 2010, the vice mayor said the city government’s obligations amounted to P343.814 million, inclusive of the principal and accumulated interest for the unpaid compulsory premiums.
“I have been remitting contributions to the GSIS on a monthly basis during my entire term as Caloocan mayor, a fact that is reflected [in] the receipts issued by particular agency,” Echiverri said in his defense.
He said that based on their records from 1997 up to the present, the Caloocan City government even overpaid the agency by P6 million although he acknowledged that the figure had yet to be validated by GSIS.
“We want to straighten out the records of both GSIS and Caloocan because they’ve [GSIS] been erroneously seeking payment for employees … who are already dead, retired, transferred, [have already] finished [their] terms [or were listed under the] wrong name,” Echiverri added.
According to Echiverri, on February 7, he and GSIS President and General Manager Robert Vergara agreed to form a reconciliation team that would iron out the discrepancies in their records.—With Marlon Ramos
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