Sacked City Hall worker welcomes reinstatement ruling; says ‘sorry’ to mayor

Joe Mari Esteral

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor 

Joe Mari Esteral welcomed the decision of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) ordering the city government of Iloilo to reinstate him as a regular employee following his suspension in 2019.

“Nalipay gid ako. Dako gid nga kalipay. Amo gid ni ang ginhatag nga pagbulig sa akon sang Ginoo nga advance Merry Christmas gid para sa akon,” Esteral told Daily Guardian on Wednesday.

[I am very happy. I am truly delighted. This is the help that the Lord has given me, an advanced Merry Christmas for me.]

The CSC, in its decision promulgated on October 31, ruled that the formal charge against Esteral “was issued without the requisite preliminary investigation.”

On September 25, 2019, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, acting on the recommendation of the City Legal Office’s investigation report, filed a formal charge against Esteral for the administrative offenses of gross insubordination, grave misconduct, and gross neglect of duty.

However, the recent CSC decision set aside the resolution that held the city hall employee accountable for gross insubordination and absence without official leave (AWOL).

“The case is dismissed without prejudice to its refilling,” read the dispositive part of the CSC decision.

The decision also directed Treñas to reinstate the city hall employee to his position and to pay him back salaries and other benefits during the period of his dismissal from the service.

The CSC noted that Esteral’s right to due process had been violated, citing two key issues: the absence of a required preliminary investigation and the alleged AWOL not being included in the formal charges against him.

Esteral further shared the hardships he and his mother endured during the course of his suspension.

“Grabe. Kasakit gid sang natabo sa akon. Dako gid ang pagantos namun sang akon nga iloy […] Dako gid nga epekto ang natabo,” he narrated.

[It was severe. What happened to me was very painful. My mother suffered and its impact is significant to me.]

Esteral also extended an apology to the city mayor, emphasizing his desire to return to work at the City Hall and live a normal life.

“Mayor (Treñas), gusto ko tani nga makabalik sa City Hall kay naantusan ko naman ni ang tanan nga mga nagkalatabo sa akon […] Indi ka man malain nga tawo nga kung ano gid man ang sala ko, nagapangayo ako sa imo sang pasaylo,” he said.

[Mayor Treñas, I would like to return to the City Hall after all the hardships that I faced. I know that you are not a bad person, and whatever my offense may be, I am asking for your forgiveness.]

He further appealed to the City Legal Office not to pursue a motion for reconsideration (MR) in the CSC case.

“Kung tani, kung ara man nagapati si Mayor indi na sila mag-appeal. Sa amo lang ni nga sweldo nakun nga sapagka gamay nga tani maluoy man siya sa akon,” he said.

“I hope that the city mayor will not file an appeal anymore. With my meager salary, I hope he will have mercy on me.]

The City Legal Office, however, is not yet finished with the case. Atty. GV Eutiquio Cuñada said they are also considering filing an MR since the city government is granted such a remedy and is entitled to file such.

Cuñada emphasized that if the CSC decision had favored them, Esteral would also file the same.

“Kung tulukon natun, those are remedies available to both Mr. Eesteral and the city government. Having it been the case nga baliskad, ma MR man na siya (Esteral) siguro,” he said in a phone interview.

[These remedies are available to both Mr. Esteral and the city government. If it had been the case that it was the other way around, perhaps Esteral would also file an MR.]