POSTED: Thursday, July 10th, 2014

SAN JOSE, Occidental Mindoro – Governor Mario Gene Mendiola meted a 30-day suspension on six Sangguniang Bayan (SB) members, including the vice-mayor, for recognizing the former’s political rival as the new mayor of this municipality.

Under Administrative Case No. 0045, Governor Mendiola suspended Vice-Mayor Rey Ladaga, and SB Members Jose Franco Mendiola, Augusto Abeleda, Santiago Javier, Jr., Senen Zapanta, Jr. and June Palmares for “culpable violation of the Constitution, gross misconduct in office, oppression and abuse of authority.”

By recognizing to install Jose T. Villarosa as the duly-elected mayor of San Jose, the six suspended SB members “only created confusion to the employes and people of San Jose” as the final decision is still pending with the Comission on Elections in Manila, the provincial chief executive said.

Vice-Mayor Ladaga and the five other suspended councilors, however, defied the suspension order, saying that “we do not honor nor respect the suspension order as there was no due process in arriving at that decision.”

Lawyer Rolando Zubiri said that Governor Mendiola has issued an “illegal suspension order” and that “there was no valid service of summons in suspending them.”

The six suspended municipal officials said that they did not receive individually or personally any suspension order from the office of the provincial governor.

“The service of summons or the suspension order must be personal. In this case, the server, a casual employee, did not identify himself, but just posted the suspension order on the walls of the Sangguniang Bayan session hall,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri also added that he was going to file administrative and criminal complaints against Councilor Philip Lim for usurpation of official functions after Lim assumed the position of Ladaga as “acting vice-mayor” in a memorandum order the councillor signed on June 27.

“We were tried in a kangaroo court as the provincial board did not conduct investigation, hearings and no presentation of evidence to defend ourselves against the trump-up charges filed by an alleged complainant that we were not able to confront,” Vice-Mayor Ladaga said.

The suspension order of the provincial governor stemmed from the the report of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s committee on human rights and justice based on the complaint of a certain Rolando Basilio, a resident of  this municipality.

First Councilor Mendiola said the “decision to suspend us was railroaded as the lopsided hearing was conducted without giving us the benefit of a fair trial.”

Ladaga and the five town councilors passed SB Resolution No. 2397 to “recognize the installation” of Villarosa as the duly-elected mayor of San Jose after the latter won in an election protest case against the then sitting San Jose Mayor Romulo Festin.

Regional Trial Court Judge Jose Jacinto, Jr. declared Villarosa as the duly elected mayor as he voided the proclamation of Festin as a “consequence of massive electoral fraud.”

Villarosa won with a plurality of 806 votes over Festin in the May, 2013 local elections.

Because of that court decision, Vice-Mayor Ladaga filed a resolution recognizing and installing Villarosa as the new San Jose municipal mayor with the endorsement of Councilors Mendiola, Abeleda, Javier, Zapanta and Palmares.

Villarosa, Vice-Mayor Ladaga, and the five suspended councillors belong to the “performance team” of the Lakas-NUCD Party while Governor Mendiola and Mayor Festin belong to the “dream team” of the ruling Liberal Party. (By JUANCHO R. MAHUSAY)


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