By Felipe V Celino
ROXAS CITY, Capiz – Is Governor Fredenil Castro delaying the implementation of the 3-month suspension order of President Roxas Mayor Receliste “Tanoy” Escolin?
This was the question being asked by several individuals on when Castro would implement the suspension order against Escolin.
A lawyer who asked not to be named said the municipal accountant and the treasurer could also be held liable for releasing funds that Escolin spent on his unofficial travel.
The suspension stemmed from Escolin travelling outside Capiz sans authorization from the governor.
“If we are digging deeper into the disbursement of funds in favor of Escolin, those department heads will be involved in the illegal release of public funds,” the lawyer said.
The case was filed by former vice mayor Alfonso Golero when Escolin went to Metro Manila in 2017 without securing a travel order from then Gov. Antonio del Rosario, the sole official that issues travel orders.
The abuse of authority and grave misconduct charges filed by Golero with the office of the Ombudsman were dismissed but the investigating officer found substantial evidence that Escolin committed simple misconduct, resulting in the 3-month suspension.
The mayor earlier said in his Facebook live interview that his suspension order is not yet final and executory.
Escolin said that he already filed an Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration with prayer to hold in abeyance the execution of the Order of Implementation issued by Assistant Ombudsman Parita Lapitan.
The Ombudsman order directed Castro to immediately implement the suspension order against Escolin.
Escolin said the suspension for a simple misconduct case is too harsh.
“Considering that it is a first offense, it should be warning or reprimand and not suspension,” the mayor stressed.
He asked his critics to wait for the final decision of the Ombudsman before judging him. He also asked his constituents not to worry as he is still performing his duty as chief executive of the town.
Reports indicated that Castro could not yet implement the suspension order as he has yet to receive a copy of the resolution.
Reports added that the governor will verify with the office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Interior and Local Government(DILG) as to the legitimacy of the implementation order before he can take action.
In the meantime, reports said that Castro has asked Escolin to take a rest for 3 months while waiting for the decision of his motion for reconsideration filed before the Ombudsman.
In a three-page Order of Implementation dated December 1, 2023 but made available only recently, the Ombudsman directed Castro to implement the decision with a request to submit the compliance certificate to the office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas.
“Wherefore, Governor Fredenil Castro is hereby directed to implement immediately the penalty herein imposed against respondent. Action taken on the order of implementation shall be reported through attached compliance report and certificate and submitted to the office of the Ombudsman within 5 days from receipt hereof of the action taken therein. Let it be known that refusal or failure of any officer without just cause to comply with an order of the office of the Ombudsman to remove, suspend, demote, fine or censor shall be ground for disciplinary action against said officer.”
Section 7 of Rule lll of the Rules and Procedures of the Office of the Ombudsman provides: “A decision of the office of the Ombudsman in administrative case shall be executed as a matter of course. Moreover, Memorandum Circular No. 1 Series of 2006, issued by this office states that the filing of a Motion for Reconsideration or petition for review before the office of the Ombudsman does not operate to stay the immediate implementation of the Ombudsman decision order or resolution “.
The two cases were among the numerous charges filed by Golero and other individuals against Escolin who is now on his last term as chief executive officer of President Roxas.