Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ombudsman suspends Bato Mayor Bernaldez

Photo via Office of the Ombudsman
BATO, Camarines Sur— Ombudsman Conchita Carpio- Morales has meted a penalty of six months and one day administrative suspension without pay against town Mayor Jeanette O.R. Bernaldez, after she was found guilty of oppression.

Apart from the administrative sanction, Ombudsman Morales had also recommended the indictment of Bernaldez, after finding probable cause that she violated Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

This joint resolution was signed by Morales on April 15.

‘Illegally detailed’

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Municipal Health Officer Annelyn V. Mendoza on October 4, 2010 against Municipal Mayor Jeanette O.R. Bernaldez for Violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, and for Oppression, Abuse of Authority and Violation of Republic Act No. 6713 (An Act Establishing a Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).

Mendoza claimed that she was illegally detailed to the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Camarines Sur.

On April 14, 2009, Bernaldez issued Memorandum Directive (MD) No. 039-09, which ordered the Mendoza’s detail to the PHO of Camarines Sur effective April 15, 2009. This was upon request from the provincial Human Resource Management office (HRMO).

In her stead, Bernaldez designated Francisco Regaspi as Office-in-Charge (OIC) of the MHO of Bato, Camarines Sur effective April 16, 2009.

Mendoza appealed her detail to the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

She averred that the directive was illegal because it did not state a definite period and because it was contrary to Section 6 of R.A. 7305 (Magna Carta for Public Health Workers) which prohibits the reassignment of a public health worker except if made in the interest of public service with a written notice of the reasons therefore.
The CSC, through Resolution No. 09-1662 dated December 4, 2009, found Mendoza’s detail not in order for actually being a reassignment, which is prohibited under Section 6 of R.A. No. 7305.
The CSC directed Bernaldez to reinstate Mendoza as MHO.

However, instead of reinstating Mendoza to her original post, the mayor issued MD No. 141-09 dated

December 2, 2009, directing Mendoza to report starting the next day to the Municipal Sub-Office of Pagatpatan, Bato, Camarines Sur.

On December 16, 2009, Bernaldez issued yet another order, MD No. 149-09.

Like the first contested directive, it ordered complainant to report to the PHO of Camarines Sur on the basis of another request from the Provincial Human Resource Management Office (HRMO).

Mendoza wrote Director Cecilia R. Nieto of the CSC Regional Office No. V to inform the latter that Bernaldez had not implemented CSC Resolution No. 09-1662.

She also wrote to CSC chairman Francisco T. Duque to cite respondent in contempt.

Rift

The rift between Bernaldez and Mendoza grew wider as the two camps laid out their lines of contention.

Bernaldez maintained that 1) Mendoza’s detail to the PHO was made in good faith and in the exigency of service given the various health-related programs, projects and activities of the provincial government; 2) granting the provincial government’s request for complainant’s detail was an act of gratitude for the many favors extended by the province to the municipality of Bato; 3) she was guided by the pertinent provisions of the Local Government Code; 4) the detail was a valid exercise of her power of control and supervision over all programs, projects, services and activities of the municipal government.

On the other hand, Mendoza branded Bernaldez’ action as a clear case of harassment and oppression. While the mayor recalled the first detail order to the PHO, she was not reinstated but was ordered instead to report to the MHO sub office at Pagatpatan, which is about 30 kilometers from her official station.

According to Mendoza, she did not have an office in the said station, no medicine, and no medical equipment.

She further stressed that Bernaldez prevented her from collecting her salaries and other benefits for the months of June to August 2010.

Finally, the Ombudsman, in a joint resolution, held Bernaldez liable 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.— BICOLSTANDARD.COM
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