By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
A REGULAR employee has dumped more criminal and administrative charges against Mayor Jerry Treñas and four other officials in the City Hall for accusing her as the bag woman of former mayor Jose Espinosa III.
Rosita Camacho also sought the preventive suspension of Treñas, City Administrator Melchor Tan, Assistant Iloilo City Administrator Noel Panaguiton, Assistant Department Head II Josephine Agudo, and City Human Resource Management Office chief Leo Elevencione.
In her letter-complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman in Cebu City dated Oct 2, 2019, Camacho accused five officials of allegedly conspiring, confederating, and aiding one another in the commission of grave coercion and violations of Section 3 (e) and (a) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) for grave misconduct, oppression, and/or conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
In her complaint affidavit, Camacho described in detail the turn of events that mostly transpired at the Iloilo City Hall.
Even before the midterm elections commenced on May 13, 2019 Camacho said he heard then congressman Treñas mentioning her name over the local radio station in a “derogatory and embarrassing term”.
“Two weeks prior to the May 13, 2019 elections I heard then congressman Jerry Treñas referring to the undersigned, ‘Si Rosita Camacho nga Mayordoma’ over Bombo Radyo station, in reference to the propaganda from the Treñas camp that former mayor Jose Espinosa III was allegedly asking P100 million and I was to be the bag woman,” she claimed in her affidavit.
Months after the election ended and Treñas was declared mayor, Camacho said she was informed that the newly appointed City Administrator Tan informed some sources that several Iloilo City government employees, including Camacho, “were to be ordered to take a leave of absence rather than risk being pilloried with cases by the new administration.”
On July 3, 2019, Tan summoned Camacho. During their conversation, Camacho claimed that Tan told her that she did too much damage to the mayor.
“I told him, I did nothing but Tan replied: ‘There is a group handling those who campaigned very hard for Joe III and attending to the consequences, these people have to face and everybody (in the group) agreed that everybody (alleged Joe III people) will take a six month leave of absence for Jerry’s peace of mind, otherwise, cases will be filed against you’,” Camacho stated in his affidavit.
“The exchange left me in tears, threatened, in fear for the loss of my security, my job, means of income, in confusion as to what to do, and intimidated by who I was up against,” she added.
At that time, Camacho said she was told by the Human Resource Department of the city government that she only had 15 days of vacation leave.
From July 11 to July 31, 2019 and August 5-16, 2019, Celiz alleged that she was forced to file for a leave out of “grave threats, intimidation, and fear” of Mr. Tan and Mayor Treñas.
With no leave credits, Camacho claimed that she was again forced to go on leave from August 19-30, 2019.
“I was also forced to go on leave from August 19-30, 2019 notwithstanding that I had no leave credits left as reflected from the Application for leave for nine days without pay as signed by Mr. Elevencione, and signed and approved by Mayor Treñas,” she added.
On August 23, 2019, Camacho met with Tan but she was referred to Panaguiton.
According to Camacho, she talked to Panaguiton and appealed that she needed to report because she had no leave credits left.
But Camacho said Panaguiton stressed that the mayor is firm on his decision.
“Ros, Mayor Jerry is firm in his decision, everything is ready if you don’t comply, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), lawyers and even money and funding for cases against you,” Panaguiton said.
Camacho added that Panaguiton assured her that once she complies with the leave order, no cases will be filed against her and she can get back to her post again.
Though still in fear, Camacho said she nodded while crying and informed another personnel that she will take a leave until December 2019.
Afterwards, an application for leave from September 1 to December 31, 2019 (or a period of 122 days without pay) for Camacho was prepared, signed, and approved by Agudo, Elevencione, and Treñas.
“The experience left me in constant anxiety, in constant worry, deep depression, shame, embarrassment, humiliation, suffering from sleepless nights, suffering as to how to make ends meet, damage and undue prejudice, and loss of income for the days without pay arising from being forced, and coerced to take leave even without pay, out of fear, intimidation, and threats from the powerful and influential public officers involved, and the administration of Mayor Treñas,” Camacho stated.
This was not the first time that a regular employee sued the mayor and other City Hall officials.
Recently, City Health Office (CHO) chief Dr. Bernard Caspe sued the mayor and Tan for grave misconduct, oppression, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave coercion, violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Caspe alleged that the Treñas administration had been pressuring him to resign with a stern warning that if he refuses to do so, his life at the City Hall will be become miserable and that he will be facing cases in various forms.
Another employee, Joe Mari Esteral, a regular worker of the Local Civil Registrar’s Office (LCRO), filed criminal and administrative charges against the mayor and six other City Hall employees for allegedly harassing and oppressing him through re-assignment.
Esteral filed the charges of grave coercion, grave misconduct, oppression, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and unfair discrimination against Treñas and company.
Treñas had denied the allegations.
But upon the recommendation Memorandum/Investigation report issued by the Iloilo City Government Administrative Investigating Committee on Sept 25, 2019, Treñas suspended and formally charged Esteral for gross insubordination, grave misconduct, and gross neglect of duty.