Ombudsman orders dismissal of Batangas town mayor
BATANGAS, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of the mayor of Malvar town in Batangas due to an alleged anomalous procurement of a lot owned by her children.
Mayor Cristeta Reyes was served the Ombudsman's dismissal order on Wednesday, November 15, by Director Adelma Mauleon, head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Batangas.
Reyes was found guilty of grave misconduct based on the findings by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon dated April 18, 2017, and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on September 8.
She was meted the penalty of dismissal with accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, bar from taking civil service examination, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification for re-employment in government service.
Also adjudged guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service and meted with the penalty of suspension for 9 months are municipal budget officer Jeanette Fruelda and municipal treasurer Yolanda Cabiscuelas.
The case against Reyes stemmed from her approval of the purchase of a lot owned by her children for the construction of Santiago National High School in her municipality, an act prohibited under government procurement laws.
Reyes said she is convinced there was nothing wrong with her act since she did not benefit from the sale.
“I did not think there was pecuniary interest on my part for the municipality to purchase my children's 5,000-square-meter property at 1,320 pesos per square meter while in same year there was a property in the area that was sold at 5,100 pesos per sqm. The sale was a great loss on the part of my children for reason that price was only 25% of the market value,” she said in her motion for reconsideration filed with the Ombudsman.
The mayor said they gathered hundreds of parents' signatures, together with the resolution of the Sangguniang Bayan authorizing her to purchase the property, and a Commission on Audit report that shows no exception regarding the said purchase.
“I could still recall students have had classes for a few months under the tree while waiting for the school building due to late scouting of a lot to buy. For 8 years, hundreds of students graduated in this school Santiago National High School,” she added.
According to Brian Ballon, Local Government Operations Officer of DILG IV-A, the decision of the Ombudsman is final and executory, and they wre just waiting for official documents from the serving authority.
“We are just waiting for the official report from the provincial director, but once confirmed that [the order] is legally served, Vice Mayor Alberto Lat will be issued a memo for him to start acting as mayor of Malvar,” Ballon said. – Rappler.com