PROSECUTION OR PERSECUTION? More charges dumped on city hall exec

Couple Eireen Rita (left) and Romeo Caesar Manikan Jr. are besieged with cases filed by their fellow City Hall workers and officials. While the ordeal immensely pains them, all they can do is face the challenges which many believe was due to politics. (Photo from Juncae Manikan’s FB account)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE legal imbroglio at the Iloilo City Hall continues as Tourism Assistant Department Head Eireen Rita Manikan is again the subject of a new administrative case filed by another City Hall employee.

The city government’s Administrative Cases Investigation Committee headed by City Legal Officer Atty. Edgardo Gil received the verified complaint of Michael Soliman against Eireen Rita.

According to the committee, the complaint will be the subject of their conduct of their preliminary investigation.

“Finding the complaint sufficient in form and in substance, the Committee, pursuant to Section 17, Rule 3 in relation to Sections 18 and 19 of Rule 4, all of the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (Rules) hereby notifies Eireen Manikan of the conduct of the preliminary investigation,” read part of the committee’s order issued on September 30, 2019.

Soliman, a job hire assigned at the Office of the Local Civil Registrar, filed the complaint against Eireen Rita Manikan for failure to act promptly on requests, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service in relation to the performance of her functions as in-charge of the Customer Service Desk of the city government.
The complaint also implicated Eireen’s husband, Romeo Caesar Manikan Jr. who heads the LCRO, and another employee of the LCRO, Joe Marie Esteral, for grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and for violation of Section 3 (h) of Republic Act No. 3019.

In his affidavit, Soliman alleged that Romeo Caesar through his alleged bag man, Esteral, had been collecting fees for the processing of live birth certificates.

“I know for a fact that Romeo Manikan Jr., through Esteral, collected the amount of P5,000 from Jocelyn Espinosa for the processing of her certificate of live birth. The P5,000 paid to Manikan through Estera was without receipt,” he claimed in his affidavit.

According to Soliman, Romeo Caesar, being the department head of the LCRO, allegedly issued marriage licenses even if the couples did not comply with the tree planting and marriage counselling requirements in exchange of extra fees collected by Esteral.

“As a job hire from 2008 up to 2018, I personally know that Romeo Caesar requires all couples applying for a marriage license to pay amounts ranging from P300 and up, in exchange for not complying with tree planting requirement and marriage counselling seminar,” he said.

Soliman said the acts of Romeo Caesar was reported to the Customer Care Services then headed by Eireen Rita but she failed to act upon the issue against her husband.

“The act of Eireen Manikan in failing to act on complaints constitutes the offense of failure to act promptly on requests and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service,” Soliman said.



This was not the first time that Eireen Rita faced an administrative charge.

Last August, she was also one of the three city government employees who were accused of alleged electioneering for campaigning for former mayor Jose Espinosa III.


Aside from Mrs. Manikan, Danny Tan of the City Health Office (CHO), and Vincent de la Cruz of the Local Economic Enterprise Office (LEEO) were also accused by four job hires of violation of the Election Code/Fair Election Act, Civil Service Law, and Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees).

The four job hires – Dennis Biñas, Julia Bitonga, Jena Jose, and Donephine Domingo – claimed that they were threatened by the respondents into supporting the candidacy of Espinosa, who ran for mayor in the May 13, 2019 midterm elections but lost to Treñas, otherwise they will be terminated from their work.

Eireen Rita’s husband Romeo Caesar and Esteral, are also facing cases at City Hall.

Romeo Caesar had been dragged in the issue of alleged defective marriages at the LCRO and is the subject of a separate investigation.

Esteral filed criminal and administrative charges against Treñas and City General Services Office Head Joren Sartorio, City Legal Officer Edgar Gil, Iloilo City Civil Registry Assistant Department Head Cherrie Ampig, and Executive Assistants Fernando Jose Rico and Rudiver Jungco Sr. for allegedly harassing and oppressing him through re-assignment.

Esteral had been suspended by the mayor for 60 days for gross insubordination.



In an interview on Thursday, Eireen Rita denied Soliman’s allegations while expressing shock with the administrative complaint.

Nakibot ko when I received the administrative complaint. Na-meet ko personally siya kay job hire sya sa city hall pero to say I met him through a complaint didto sa center wala gid ako na-remember (referring to Soliman),” she said.

According to Eireen, they have been following a certain procedure on handling complaints at the Customer Care Office.

May immediate boss is former city administrator, Atty. Hernando Galvez being the vice chairman of the customer care office and then may procedure how to handle complaints,” she said.

As far as she could remember, Eireen Rita said her husband Romeo Caesar once issued a memorandum against Soliman for not observing the no noon-break policy.

Eireen Rita said their ordeal under the Treñas administration is very painful on their part.

Kung pwede lang ko kahambal nga daw malumos na kami ni Juncae (Romeo Caesar), daw malumos na kami ya and I really do not know kon ngaa gina-amo kami sini. In my 20 years in service, subong lang ko ya nakabaton sang mga amo ni, It is very very painful on my part kay tanan sa amon gasuffer,” she lamented

According to Eireen, it seems that someone hates them immensely.

“You can clearly see the path nga may akig gid ang mga tawo sa subong sa amon which I really don’t know why. It is clearly something not ordinary, and it is clearly done with malice,” she stressed.

If more cases will be filed against them, Eireen Rita said that she and his husband both don’t have a choice but to face them.

“We will have to face it. I would like to emphasize, wala kami bato. Ordinary man lang kami nga tawo. Kon sa kwan pa tiki kami kontra mo buwaya so we have to face everything rightly. Nagapangayo lang gid kami, ga-accord lang gid kami sang justice, due process and fairness. I am just wondering until when ini pero kabalo man kita the Lord is not sleeping,” she said.