Vote to suspend mayor deferred

Controversial Mayor Nelson Garcia of Dumanjug, Cebu had charges of “grave abuse of authority” filed against him. The complaint stemmed from his act of designating a municipal secretary, a move which falls under the authority of the vice mayor under the Local Government Code (Section 445, Paragraph 2).

In yesterday’s session, Provincial Board Member Grecilda Sanchez-Zaballero, vice chairman of the Committee on Complaints and Investigation, recommended his suspension for six months. She further reiterated that a public office is a public trust and that the mayor clearly tarnished this trust by “abusing the authority reposed upon him”.

After which, Provincial Board Member Joven Mondigo Jr. stressed that since the respondent belatedly filed two motions, it would be better to defer the matter until all of them have read the motions. He continued that to vote on the suspension would render the motions moot and academic.

At which point, Ex Officio Member Celestino A. Martinez III objected and stressed that to admit the late motions would contravene the house rules. Motions and objections from various members of the Provincial Board continued for an hour. There was even a point where Vice Governor Agnes Magpale declared her inclination to divide the house though a vote.

There were various contentious points that were being tackled during the session. Board Member Sun Shimura opined that subject to their house rules they should consider all matters relevant to the issue. This includes the admittance of the two motions filed by the respondent mayor. Zaballero countered that the issue is not the acceptance of the motions but to vote upon the suspension of the mayor.

Board Member Arleigh Sitoy motioned for a five-minute recess to confer with the members of the committe on investigation whether or not to defer the matter next session. After the said recess, Sitoy said that for “humanitarian and philantropic reasons”, the committee will defer the issue next week. Members of the legislative session finally agreed on one thing, that is to tackle the matter in next week’s session.

For his part, Mayor Nelson Garcia declared, “Bakak na tanan! Ang akong bise-mayor gusto ma-mayor na walay eleksyon (It is all lies. My vice-mayor just wants to be mayor without an election.)”

He was pressed if the deferment was advantageous to him, at least for one week. He said, “Maayo na lang na. Makatulog ko ug mag hayang, dili mag kulob (It’s better. At least, I can sleep better for one week).”

Jimbo Tumulak