THE Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday directed Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to implement its one-year suspension order on Vice Mayor Santiago Maravillas of Negros Occidental’s Escalante City.
Escalante was found guilty of two counts of abuse of authority and oppression.
Based on the Ombudsman’s investigation, Maravillas, then as acting mayor, terminated the services of Florencio Lauron and Francisca Pabuaya. who held positions as heavy equipment operator II and administrative aide II, respectively.
Maravillas issued a Jan. 12, 2016 termination letter dated to Lauron, while Pabuaya was excluded from the payroll starting Jan. 1, 2016.
“Respondent’s act of terminating the services of complainants [Lauron and Pabuaya] without cause and without due process is a clear display of excessive use of authority,” the Ombudsman’s resolution read.
Summarily dismissing complainants violates Section 36(a), Article IX of Presidential Decree No. 807 (Civil Service Decree of the Philippines) and Section 46, Chapter 7, Title I, subtitle a, Book V of Executive Order No. 292 (Administrative Code of 1987).
Both laws provide in part that no officer or employee in the civil service shall be suspended or dismissed, except for cause as provided by law and after due process, the Ombudsman noted.
On Sept. 15 last year, the Ombudsman also ordered a six-month suspension for Maravillas for the illegal termination of a livestock inspector.
The Ombudsman accused Maravillas, again as acting city mayor, of illegally dismissing Angel Sinadjan in January 2016 despite the victim having a permanent position at the City Veterinarian’s Office.
“Respondent’s act of terminating [Sinadjan’s] services and of the more than 70 employees without affording them due process is evident of respondent’s ill-motive,” the Ombudsman said.
In 2015, Maravillas took over as the city mayor when the Ombudsman also suspended Mayor Melecio Yap Jr. for misconduct, owing to the latter’s unauthorized issuance of a check and voucher.
According to the Negros Daily Bulletin in a report on Jan. 14, 2016, Maravillas terminated three executive assistants of Yap because their positions were “of trust and confidence.”
“Those EAs who are willing to work with me were retained,” Maravillas said in the report, adding he also terminated several city employees.
“More termination will follow,” he told reporters in Bacolod City.
At the time, Maravillas was running for congressman in the First District of Negros Occidental, but lost to Yap, the Escalante mayor.