Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bulan Mayor de Castro files motions for reconsideration

LEGAZPI CITY--A town mayor of Sorsogon, who stepped down from office after a dismissal order from the Office of the Ombudsman was served to her last week by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Bicol, said she has filed two filed two motions for reconsideration with the Ombudsman for the cases she is facing.

Helen de Castro
Photo: Padabaon ta an Sorsogon
Zalman Uddin, chief of DILG–Bicol’s legal department, said Mayor Helen De Castro of Bulan town in Sorsogon, was removed from her post after the Ombudsman found out that the construction of the P32.9-million Bulan Integrated Bus Terminal project in 2007 and the P4.9-million town slaughterhouse were tainted with defects and irregularities.

De Castro, 65, in an interview Monday, said she filed the motions for reconsideration on November 2 and 8.

“That’s the reason I did not receive the Ombudsman order, there are still pending motions for reconsideration,” she said.

De Castro said should the Ombudsman deny her appeal, she would elevate the case to the Court of Appeals.

Uddin said the dismissal order had cited De Castro and her co-accused municipal engineer Toby Gonzales Jr. for committing “administrative acts that were prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct and serious dishonesty in pursuing the two projects in Bulan.

The DILG team led by DILG-Bicol Director Eloisa Pastor served the dismissal order against De Castro at her office on Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. But De Castro had asked that she be allowed not to personally receive the order due to “legal technicalities.”

Her request was heeded by the DILG team which instead posted a copy of the dismissal order at the municipal bulletin board, which Uddin said was among the standard procedures in serving an order.

The posting of the order was followed by the turnover of the mayoral post to Vice Mayor Romeo Gordula as acting mayor and town councilor Jeofry Azur as acting vice mayor.

De Castro said she did not resist the dismissal order served on her as the complaint was just a simple offense since she was performing “ministerial functions” with regards to the documents being questioned.

She said the “technical aspects (of the case) had been remedied and that wala naman akong tinatago (I am not hiding anything).”

She said complainant Romeo Valeriano had an ax to grind against her concerning past differences between their families, with “politics seemingly at play" in the case.

Uddin said De Castro has the right to seek legal remedies to get back her elective mayoral post by submitting an appeal or a motion for reconsideration with the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman order had exonerated the other members of the town’s Bids and Awards Committee who were included in the complaint sheet.

According to the Ombudsman's decision, a Commission on Audit (COA) report had said the P32.9 million cost of the construction of the bus terminal was overpriced by 26.79 percent or by P6.9 million as compared to COA’s estimated cost of P26 million.

The 16-page decision was approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Sept. 23. (PNA)
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