Ombudsman indicts Mayor Lani Cayetano for locking session hall
FOR padlocking the session hall, Taguig Mayor Laarni Cayetano and another official are facing criminal charges for preventing members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod to hold regular sessions.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales indicted the wife of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and Officer-in-Charge City Administrator Jose Montales for violation of Article 143 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Article 143 of the RPC penalizes persons who, by force or fraud, prevent or tend to prevent the meetings of local legislative bodies.
The case stemmed from the eviction of the Sangguniang Members and their transfer to a small room in the city auditorium in 2010.
The Ombudsman said the city council held its proceedings on the staircase of the city hall and in various venues inside and outside the city hall for the next 14 sessions.
The council said the padlocking of the session hall was an act of hostility, premeditated and executed with undue haste, without prior consultation and prior notice.
Morales also junked Cayetano’s explanation that the move was part of the city’s reengineering and reorganizational plan.
The Ombudsman said there was neither a plan nor a semblance of a project study that would make necessary the immediate change in the layout of the city hall offices.
The Ombudsman’s resolution also said that “the documentary evidence, as well as respondents’ own admissions, belied their claim that any ‘reorganizational or reengineering plan’ with respect to city hall offices actually existed.”
The Ombudsman also said Cayetano failed to comply with Section 45(b), Article I, Chapter III of the Local Government Code which requires that the power bestowed upon the local chief executive to assign and allocate office spaces must be exercised for the purpose of promoting efficient and economical governance, for “the exercise of any power, whether express or implied, must be rational. The exercise necessarily precludes any arbitrariness or abuse.”
The padlocking incident stemmed from a political rivalry between Cayetano and Taguig Vice Mayor George Elias, who cried political harrassment when the mayor prevented them from holding sessions.
Elias is an ally of the Tiñga political clan, under which former Supreme Court Associate Justice Dante Tiñga lost to Cayetano in the May 2010 elections.
The council was then forced to work in the upper deck of the auditorium where the ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia used in the 2010 elections were stored. These were the subject of an election protest against Cayetano.
For her part, Mayor Cayetano maintained that the rooms of the city hall had been reorganized that time, and even she was deprived of an office when she assumed in 2010.
She expressed her surprise that the case was revived after it had been junked in 2011.
She maintained that it was not her intention to evict her own councilors to harass them.
“Kailanman ay hindi ko piniglilan ang sangguniang panlunsod na makapagconduct ng regular session nila. Kinailangan noong panahong yun na magkaroon ng reorganization at saka yung mga reassignment ng mga opisina,” Cayetano said in a press briefing.
“Humiling po tayo na bigyan ng pagkakataon na maayos ang room assignments. Minasama ito ng ibang konsehal at ito ay humantong sa pagsasampa ng kaso,” she added
She said it is within her powers under the Local Government Code to order reorganization of room assignments.
She said she is ready to face the charges.
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