TALUGTUG, Nueva Ecija: The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of Talugtug Mayor Reynaldo Cachuela and six other municipal officials for 90 days over alleged grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct and dishonesty.
The move came weeks after Cachuela succeeded Quintino Caspillo Jr., who was dismissed by the Ombudsman on grounds of nepotism, for designating his nephew to be the town’s planning and development officer. The decision was recently upheld by the Court of Appeals.
The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of Cachuela, along with Councilors Flora F. Cinense, Maximo B. Ancheta Sr., Maximo T. Ulzano, Philip F. Bilegra and Leo G. Monta, all of the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija (Balane), and Municipal Council Secretary Norberto P. Baldovino.
Dr. Abraham A. Pascua, Department of the Interior and Local Governments assistant regional director for Central Luzon and concurrent DILG provincial director, served the order, which in turn was based on a directive issued by DILG Regional Director Florida M. Dijan.
Dijan also issued a separate order appointing Vice Mayor Benjamin Gamit Jr. and Councilor Alberto G. Estillore as acting mayor and vice mayor, respectively.
The suspension was ordered by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, Gerard A. Mosquera, last June 23, 2015 and enforced only on Friday.
Cachuela rejected the orders, as a form of protest, over alleged lack of due process.
“We were never given a chance to air our side. There is (a) travesty of justice,” he said.
The suspensions stemmed from the complaints filed on April 11 by Gamit, Estillore and Councilor Gerry B. Agpalo after the Municipal Council, in a resolution, denied the appointment of Rhea Jasmine B. Tobias as municipal budget officer.
The complainants said the resolution did not reflect the matters agreed upon by the members present in the April 20 session.
Baldovino said a clarificatory question should have been raised with the Ombudsman since the violation was supposedly committed when Cachuela was vice mayor, not when he took over as mayor.
He added that granting there was a violation, it was only a light offense to constitute such a stiff penalty.
He said that there was no personnel selection board, which should have conducted a selection process as stipulated by Civil Service Commission rules and regulations.