Castro: Suspension case of Escolin not yet final and executory

Capiz Governor Fredenil Castro | Facebook Photo

By Felipe V Celino

ROXAS CITY, Capiz – The suspension case of President Roxas Mayor Receliste “Tanoy” Escolin is not yet final and executory.

This was the reaction of Capiz Governor Fredenil Castro in denying insinuations that he was delaying the implementation of the 3-month suspension of Escolin.

Reports said that Castro had already received the directive from the office of the Ombudsman but he clarified that it was not yet final and executory because Escolin had filed an Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration with prayer to hold on abeyance the implementation of the order.

Reports added that the governor has sent letters to the Ombudsman and the Department of Interior and Local Government(DILG) stating that he will immediately implement the order once it is final and executory.

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(MR) 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 “.

A lawyer who asked not to be named has cited the case of former Bogo City Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr. dated December 29, 2011 directing him to implement the office of the Ombudsman’s order of then municipal accountant Crecencio Verdida and municipal treasurer Rhett Minquez who were both found guilty of dishonesty, conduct prejudicial to the best interests of service and grave misconduct meting the penalty of dismissal from service with accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility,  forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification.

Jesus Doque IV, DILG director lll said that “the filing of MR or petition for review does not operate to stay the immediate implementation of the Ombudsman decision,  order or resolution unless a Temporary Restraining Order or Writ of Injunction duly issued by the competent court.”

“Based on the Memorandum Circular No. 1 series of 2006, you should immediately implement the said order. Only a TRO issued by a court of competent jurisdiction or Writ of Injunction can stay the immediate implementation of the Ombudsman decision,  order or resolution,” Doque said.

The suspension stemmed from Escolin travelling outside Capiz sans authorization from the governor.

The same lawyer has said that the municipal accountant and the treasurer could also be held liable for releasing funds that Escolin spent on his unofficial travel.

“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 and now Cabug-cabug punong barangay 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.

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