New Iloilo City mayor sworn in
ILOILO CITY — Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who has been on medical leave and out of the country for two months now, was removed from office on Monday after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) served a dismissal order from the Office of the Ombudsman for serious dishonesty related to his alleged unexplained wealth.
Vice Mayor Jose Espinosa III, the acting mayor since Mabilog left the country on Aug. 30, was sworn in as mayor to serve the remainder of Mabilog’s term until 2019.
Councilor Jeffrey Ganzon was also sworn in as vice mayor.
Mabilog’s legal counsel, Joenar Pueblo, received the order from DILG officials, led by Western Visayas regional director Anthony Nuyda, on Monday noon but maintained that the former mayor would question the Ombudsman order in the Court of Appeals.
“Our legal procedures will continue,” Pueblo said.
He said Mabilog wanted a peaceful and orderly implementation of the Ombudsman order if there was no court order to stop it.
Pueblo was supposed to file a petition for certiorari and seek a temporary restraining order in the appeals court to stop the implementation of the dismissal order. But Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada ordered the suspension of classes and work in government offices on Monday ahead of the nationwide holidays.
Espinosa and city administrator Hernando Galvez said it was “business as usual” at City Hall despite Mabilog’s dismissal.
Galvez admitted that many City Hall employees were saddened by Mabilog’s fate.
“Since last week [when they heard about the news of Mabilog’s dismissal], many [employees] have been crying,” he said.
Even as the order was implemented, supporters of Mabilog tied red ribbons around tree branches and electric posts along city streets to show their support for the former mayor. Red was Mabilog’s campaign color.
The Ombudsman ordered the dismissal of Mabilog after he was found guilty of serious dishonesty for failing to sufficiently explain the increase in his net worth in a year by about P9 million.
Espinosa is a brother-in-law of Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, an ally of Mabilog who transferred from the Liberal Party to the administration Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan shortly after the 2016 elections.
Mabilog is in an undisclosed location abroad with his wife, Marivic, and their two children.
He left the country on Aug. 30 to attend seminars in Japan and Malaysia, but later went on an extended medical leave amid President Duterte’s continued public accusations that he was a protector of the illegal drug trade.
Mabilog’s medical leave was supposed to end on Tuesday.
Mabilog served as city councilor from 2004 to 2007, and vice mayor from 2007 to 2010.
He was elected mayor in 2010 and was serving his third and last term when he was dismissed.
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