Bato mayor defies suspension order

BATO, Camarines Sur—Tensions are running high as ousted mayor Jeanette Bernaldez continues to defy the suspension order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Bernaldez, who was found guilty of oppression, was meted a penalty of six months and one day administrative suspension without pay.

Bato Muncipal Hall
Photo by Ringer
Wikimedia Commons


Bernaldez’ defense

Insisting that she has a Motion for Reconsideration pending at the Office of the Ombudsman, as well as a petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) at the Court of Appeals, she said she is mandated to continue discharging the duties of the mayor.

“Anytime masagot kan Ombudsman, CA, yaon na dyan, I have to give up my position,” she said in an interview with Edwin Lara over radio station BBS-DWLV on May 20.

She likewise invoked the Aguinaldo doctrine as a shield against her suspension.

According to said doctrine, “a public official cannot be removed for administrative misconduct committed during a prior term, since his re-election to office operates as a condonation of the officer's previous misconduct to the extent of cutting off the right to remove him therefor.”

Bernaldez in the interview maintained that her re-election rendered the administrative complaints against her, dated 2010 and 2013, moot and academic.


Sacueza’s stand

But the camp of Alvin Sacueza, who was elected vice mayor, believes otherwise.

Sacueza averred that although he respects Bernaldez’ right to question the Ombudsman’s ruling, he also needs to abide by the law.

He narrated that when the Office of the Ombudsman released the joint resolution on April 15, he did not make any move.

Since DILG Regional Director Elouisa Pastor executed the Order, however, he was duty-bound to assume office lest he face sanctions.

Gonzales sides with Sacueza
Former Bato mayor Jimmy Gonzales, in a separate interview, agreed with Sacueza’s viewpoint.

He said he laments how the residents have become divided on the issue, although this is normal and to be expected.

He also stressed that he believes in Sacueza’s legitimacy as acting mayor.

Gonzales expressed his fear, however, that Bernaldez’ allies at the Sangguniang Bayan might not give Sacueza the authority to transact.

This, he said, could spell disaster for the municipal hall employees, whose paychecks may be delayed and thus have difficulty enrolling their children during the forthcoming schoolyear.


Problems

The bitter standoff has resulted into difficult and delayed government transactions as Bernaldez’ camp have reportedly put up barricades and padlocked doors to prevent Sacueza from officially assuming post.

Sacueza has since sought the help of the local police to remove the barricades and allow him to discharge his official duties.

Undeterred, however, by the moves of the opposing camp, Sacueza appealed to the Sangguniang Bayan officials to follow their hearts and minds and make principled and intelligent decisions.

Meanwhile, he urged the residents of Bato to prioritize the welfare of the town, and not their leader.

“Sa gabos na mga kahimanwa ko, magkasararo po kita para po sa ikaka-asenso, ikakagayon kan satuyang banwaan. An ipaglaban ta po an karahayan kan banwaan, bako an karahayan kan lider,” he stated in an interview over BBS-DWLV.

Bernaldez, it would be recalled, was held liable by the Office of the Ombudsman for Oppression under Section 46 (B) (2), Rule 10 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service and Grave Abuse of Authority under Section 52 (A) (14) of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.

In the previous election, Bernaldez ran under the banner of the Nacionalista Party (NP) while Sacueza was with the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC).—BICOLSTANDARD.COM Pirming enot. Pirming bago.

Suspension Order of Mayor Jeanette Bernaldez
BICOLSTANDARD.COM

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