‘MERE CHITCHATS’: City Hall executives deny harassing regular employee

ILOILO City Executive Assistants Fernando Jose Rico (left) and Rudiver Jungco Sr. denied the criminal and administrative charges filed by their fellow City Hall employee, Joe Mari Esteral, for allegedly harassing and oppressing the latter through re-assignment. (Photos from FB pages of Joe Edrielle D. Villaruel and Iloilo City Sports Development Division)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

ILOILO City Executive Assistants (EA) Fernando Jose Rico and Rudiver Jungco Sr. denied harassing and oppressing fellow City Hall employee Joe Mari Esteral.

In an interview on Wednesday, the two EAs said that they did not expect Esteral to file criminal and administrative charges as they only had friendly chats with the complainant.

Esteral filed the charges against Jungco, Rico, alongside City Administrator Melchor Tan, City General Services Office Head Joren Sartorio, City Legal Officer Edgar Gil, Iloilo City Civil Registry Assistant Department Head Cherrie Ampig, and Mayor Jerry Treñas.

The charges of grave coercion, grave misconduct, oppression, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and unfair discrimination were lodged with the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas in Cebu City on Sept 11, 2019.

Esteral, who was appointed to the position of Book Binder II at the Local Civil Registrar’s Office (LCRO) but was later re-assigned to the city’s sanitary landfill at Calajunan in Mandurriao district, claimed that the respondents conspired and harassed him to force him to do their biddings.

He alleged that both Rico and Jungco summoned and asked him to cooperate by pinning down his boss, LCRO head Romeo Caesar ‘Juncae’ Manikan, so that he (Esteral) and his wife can return to their previous deployment.

But, Jungco recalled that he only had a short conservation with Esteral as they were previously good friends.

Nadumduman ko nakabugnuhay kami somewhere sa sagwa, wala ko kabalo nga nag amo sina kay isa lang ang gina istoryahan namon,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.

During their conversation, Jungco said he asked Esteral how he was doing amid the controversies at  the LCRO.

Sang nagbugnuhanay, teh kamusta ka da sa opisina mo, daw ka joke pa bala sang tono ko siling ko kasikat sang opisina niyo, siling ko may ano gidman da sa inyo,” he said.

He admitted that he asked Esteral if he knew something about the controversies that allegedly transpired at the LCRO but vehemently denied allegations that he threatened Esteral to cooperate and pin down Manikan.

Siling ko if may nabal-an ka da nga daw mas better nga isugid mo ang matuod eh para di ka maumid, daw something amo na, wala ko kadumdum sang other namon nga gindiscuss same lang man na,” he explained.

At that time, the LCRO was under fire for the alleged defective marriages that were uncovered at the office.

The mayor even sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) where was Manikan was also summoned by NBI summoned for the investigation.

Rico shared Jungco’s sentiments who explained that he only asked Esteral about the controversies at the LCRO.

He emphasized that he never made statements or ordered Esteral to pin down Manikan.

Ina ya daw indi amo na ya ang pagtratar ko sa akon nga mga migo ah, namangkot lang ko sa iya kon tuod inang gakatabo sa opisina niya, kon may nabal-an siya, siling niya, ‘wala gid ko kabalo boss kay birth certificate lang akon’. The, waay naman after that sang nabal-an ko nga wala siya kabalo,” he reiterated.

Both Jungco and Rico are convinced that someone is behind the move of Esteral.

Akon ginapanagatuptop may tawo sa likod sini nga iembarass kami, kami pa ya, sa sini gani kon amo ini pagalantawon, kami pa di gani ginaharass ya kay teh waay gid kami ka amo sina sa iya. Ako ya gapati gid ko nga indi na iya, kay gapati ko ini siya ya wala ni siya kapasidad magfile, may tawo gid gasugo sa iya,” Rico stressed.

Siguro may something guro nagtulod sa iya kay daw wala gid ko nag-abot sa point nga nag-amo sina aa,” Jungco furthered.

When asked for his message to Esteral, Rico said, “Sky, teh ginhimo mo ni teh tindugan mo ni kay wala man ko ya ginubra sa imo sang malain, teh whatever reasons mo da gin-ubra teh we will face all the consequences of our actions.”

Ampig and Sartorio refused to comment on the complaint.

In previous interviews, Treñas clarified that the detail or reassignment in the City Hall underwent the right processes

The mayor said that he will answer the complaint once he is directed to do so.