The suspension of three incumbent councilors of Bacolod City and four others as ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman,was unfair and harsh, Bacolod Councilor Caesar Distrito said yesterday.
Distrito said they sympathize with Councilors Em Ang, Sonya Verdeflor and Wilson Gamboa Jr.
He is saddened by the one month suspension of Ang, not just because she is his partymate, but because she is one of the most hardworking councilors. Her voice in the City Council will be missed and when she speaks out her mind, they listen because of her precise point and the logic in her arguments, he said.
Distrito said he may have some differences with Gamboa and Verdeflor, but these are purely political and policy differences. “But as colleagues in the SangguniangPanlungsod I believe the penalty is too harsh for them and they don't deserve it”, he said.
The Office of the Ombudsman meted the three incumbent councilors and four others suspensions of one month and one day without pay for simple neglect of duty in relation to an administrative complaint filed against them by former councilor Juan Ramon Guanzon on April 25, 2016.
Guanzon filed a case of abuse of authority/and or ignorance of the law against the three councilors and former councilors JocelleBatapa-Sigue, Roberto Rojas, Archie Baribar, and Alex Paglumotan for approving Barangay Tangub Resolution No. 16-103, series of 2016, authorizing the holding of cockfights on certain dates in violation of City Ordinance 506.
The Ombudsman, however, dismissed for lack of substantial evidence the administrative charge for abuse of authority and/or ignorance of the law.
Guanzon said Bacolod has an existing ordinance, C.O. 506, which grants special permits to hold cockfights for special and charitable purposes, among which is for the benefit of the barangay during barangay fiesta or charter day celebrations.
In his complaint, he said the SP approved the Resolution of Barangay Tangub to hold cockfights on April 3, 4 and 5, 2016 in connection with the barangay fiesta. But the fiesta of Brgy.Tangub falls every May 15 and its charter day is in September.
Distrito said the SP discusses a minimum of five requests for cockfights every session. They have an average of 50 items per session and that they usually rely on the resolution passed by the barangay regarding their fiesta, which they presume to have been conducted with regularity.
He said the holding of cockfights, which is being regulated by the ordinance, is part of the tradition of Filipinos every fiesta and part of the barangay's fund-raising activity.
Distrito said the fiesta of Brgy. Tangub is on May 15. But what was indicated in its resolution is that the cockfights will be held on April 3, 4 and 5.
But the ordinance does not say that the cockfight should be held three weeks before the fiesta, he said.
“Granting for the sake of argument that the SP erred. However, we were the ones who crafted the ordinance. So therefore, they should believe the statement of the SP, “ Distrito said.
Since the purpose of the cockfight is to raise funds, it would not be possible to hold the cockfight during the fiesta, he said.
“And granting that our interpretation of the ordinance is wrong, should it warrant a penalty of suspension?” Distrito asked.
“I believea reprimand is a matter of just penalty for the respondents,” he added.
Distrito said that because of their legal prohibition to attend the session, the members of the SP will be counted as 10 instead of 13. So in the determination of a quorum, only six members are needed to act on important legislations including the passage of the annual budget, he said.
Meanwhile, Distrito recalled that he was out of the session hall together with then councilor and now Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, Councilors Claudio Puentevella, Ana Marie Palermo and NoliVillarosa, and former councilor Carlos Jose Lopez, whenthe request of Brgy. Tangub was approved because it was already the campaign period so they left early.*CGS
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