THE Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from government service of Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian purportedly because of his responsibility for the Kentex factory fire that killed 74 people in May last year.
But Gatchalian, a ranking official of the Nationalist People’s Coalition that recently backed the presidential candidacy of Senator Grace Poe, said his lawyers were able to secure a temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals stopping the dismissal order.
“My counsels received an order [dismissal] to that effect. To the same degree they were able to secure a TRO,” Gatchalian told The Standard in a text message.
“This TRO is important because without it there will be a chilling effect on city mayors of highly-urbanized cities as we exercise the same procedure,” Gatchalian said. “Furthermore, there will be irreparable damage to our economy and generate massive unemployment.”
Gatchalian was charged last July with violating the Fire Code for issuing a business permit to Kentex Manufacturing Corp., the owner of the factory, although the establishment did not have a fire safety inspection certificate from the Bureau of Fire Protection.
But the mayor said that at the time of the Kentex fire, BFP records show that out of the close to 300,000 establishments in Metro Manila, only 15 percent had FSICs rules issued by the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of the Interior and Local Government and the BFP allowed the issuance of provisional business permits pending the issuance of FSICs.
Vice presidential candidate Senator Francis Escudero was the first to announce the Ombudsman issuance of Friday and suggested that the dismissal order may be politically motivated.
“It is not right that only one mayor should be dismissed because administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, who was DILG secretary at the time, is aware of the fact that mayors are authorized to issue a business permit pending the release of FSIC,” Escudero said. Christine F. Herrera
“Maybe it was just a coincidence that that decision came out when the NPC announced its support for me and Senator Grace,” Escudero added, noting that the Valenzuela mayor is also the campaign spokesperson of their tandem.
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