‘Uswag’ councilors face admin rap for absence

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

ILOILO City Councilors belonging to the camp of Mayor Jerry Treñas are facing administrative charges for dereliction of duty as public officials following their absence from the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) on April 23, 2019.

Former councilors Joshua Alim and Plaridel Nava filed the administrative complaint before the Office of the President against Team ‘Uswag’ Councilors Ely Estante, Lady Julie Grace Baronda, Jose Efrain Treñas, Leila Luntao, Ma. Irene Ong, and Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon.

An Order from the Office of the President issued on July 4, 2019 directed the Ganzon, Estante, Luntao, Ong, Baronda, and Jay Treñas to submit their verified answers on the complaint 15 days upon the receipt.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Alim said that they anchored their administrative complaint on the Local Government Code of the Philippines, saying that the councilors failed to file their official leave of absence from their regular session on April 23, 2019.
Kibot lang ko wala kami quorum, wala namon ma-tackle ang mga important issues. We filed the administrative complaint dereliction of duty as public official resulting in prejudice to the general welfare of the people. Obligasyon namon ina ya mu mag attend session under the Local Government Code and kung indi ka maka-attend, file ka sang official leave of absence mo ina ya gulpi lang sila nag absent wala gani sila nag-leave of absence,” he said.

Alim added that the session on April 23, 2019 was supposed to discuss the recommendation of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) for the declaration of a state of calamity in the metro due to water crisis caused by El Niño.

During the regular session, seven councilors under the Team ‘Uswag’ slate were no show and Councilor Mandrie Malabor was on an official leave. Hence, the SP failed to declare a state of calamity in Iloilo City because of lack of quorum.

The declaration pushed through on April 26 despite the absence of ‘Uswag’ councilors.

Team ‘Uswag’ questioned the declaration particularly on the lack of quorum of the SP.

They also issued an official statement claiming that the city government’s utilization of the calamity fund will be used for the political machinery of the current administration for the midterm elections.

At that time, then lone district congressman and now Mayor Jerry Treñas was running against former mayor Jose Espinosa III.

In an interview on Tuesday, Councilor Jay Treñas emphasized that they were absent during several sessions of the SP “to make a stand and protect the Ilonggos.”

“That is their prerogative. But I don’t see anything wrong. Wala man kami i-hide. At that time, it was a decision we made to protect the Ilonggo people. All government officials are also entitled to file their leaves and they can avail it anytime. Nag-apply kita leave because we want to make a stand. That’s their prerogative but ako tinlo akon konsensiya, wala man ko may ginatago. Ara kita sa ensakto,” he said.