NE mayoralty row persists


    PANTABANGAN, Nueva Ecija – Residents of this municipality remain in quandary on who is the legitimate local chief executive leaving some 200 employees unable to receive their salaries and about 100 households without electricity.

    This, even as the Court of Appeals ruled to reinstate Mayor Lucio Uera who was earlier dismissed by the Ombudsman.

    In a 17-page decision dated June 18, 2015 and made public here Monday, the CA “reversed and set aside” the Ombudsman’s joint resolution dated June 10, 2013 , the order dated Sept. 10, 2014 and the order dated Nov. 6, 2014, which were approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Feb. 6, 2015 that unseated Uera in connection with the cases filed as OMBL- A-05-0251-D and OMB-L-A- 0252-D.

    The CA said there was not enough evidence to prove grave misconduct.

    The joint resolution pertains to pronouncement of the administrative liability imposing the penalty of dismissal from service with all its accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetualdisqualification from holding public office, and bar from taking civil service examination on Uera, the Sept. 10, 2015 order was denying Uera’s motion for reconsideration while the Nov. 6, 2014 order was the Morales’ approval of the joint resolution.

    The Ombudsman removed Uera in March this year over supposed grave misconduct and grave abuse of authority pursuant to Section 19 in relation to Section 25, Republic Act 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989 over alleged illegal dismissal of 44 municipal employees in 2005.

    The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) subsequently installed Vice Mayor Ruben Huerta as mayor to serve the unexpired term of Uera.

    On March 24, 2015, the CA, acting on Uera’s very urgent ex-parte motion, issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) “to maintain the status quo ante,” for sixty days.

    The chaos, however, heightened when the TRO expired on May 24 as Uera opted to stay in office while Huerta started functioning as local chief executive.

    Huerta said he would conduct a flag raising activity every Monday but Uera would follow with another, both of them claiming to be the legal mayor.

    Thus, employees were not able to receive their salaries since May.

    Uera blamed the Philippine National Bank for honoring the signature of an accountant who is an appointee of Huerta.

    “Kung siya ang papirmahin ko, admission ‘yun na si Huerta ang mayor,” Uera said.

    Residents of Poblacion East here believed that the infighting at the town hall caused the delay of restoration of electricity in a portion of the village after a transformer exploded Thursday last week.

    Pantabangan Municipal Electric System (PAMES) which provides electricity here is operated by the municipal government.

    “Siguro hindi rin malaman kung sino pipirma sa tseke para makabili ng bagong transformer,” a resident said. But Uera expressed belief the CA ruling will finally settle the issue.

    Huerta, during the flag raising ceremonies on Monday, however said, he will continue to discharge function as mayor until the DILG implements the CA ruling.

    The Office of the Ombudsman imposed the administrative penalty of dismissal on Uera as a result of the case filed by Antonio Capia and 43 other permanent town employees, accusing him of unjustly suspending and terminating their services.

    In their complaint, the employees said that they were reporting to work on January 3, 2005 when they were barred entry by Uera’s alleged henchmen who reportedly confiscated their daily time records and personal belongings.

    They told the Ombudsman that they were regularly reporting to work but could not enter their respective offices since because Uera supposedly had them padlocked.

    Uera denied the allegations, saying the alleged wrongful acts were actually an exercise of his official duty.

    But the Ombudsman ruled that the employees suffered undue injury by reason of Uers’s “unlawful acts.”


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