The case against Mayor Bayron

(photo credits: politics.com.ph / encrypted.gstatic.com)

The case against Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron began from a complaint lodged before the Ombudsman by a certain Aldrin Madreo on November 22, 2013. Madreo alleged that Bayron illegaly hired his son, Karl, to head the city’s environmental arm Bantay Puerto and separately the City’s VIP Security Task Force without declaring their kinship.

Bayron sought to dismiss the case from the outset, claiming in his defense that Karl’s position in the city government was “confidential in nature” which allowed the young Bayron to occupy the position. He claimed that his signature on Karl’s employment contract which did not identify their relationship was a mere case of oversight.

In its ruling on December 15, 2016, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered Bayron’s dismissal, finding the latter guilty of facilitating Karl’s appointment into service sometime between July – December 2013, with a monthly pay of P16, 000.00 paid out of the city coffers.

Bayron hired his own son Karl but did not truthfully disclose this relationship in the government employment contract form. The Ombudsman pointed out that the disclosure of filial relationship was necessary to determine whether an appointment is nepotistic or whether it falls under the exceptions.

A month later, on February 2, Bayron filed a petition against the Ombudsman’s ruling before the Court of Appeals, with prayer for an issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the Ombudsman.

The father and son was dismissed from service after on the same month after Bayron officially received the implementation of  the Ombudsman’s dismissal order issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In a document received by the Office of the Vice Mayor from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), signed by Regional Director Florida M. Dijan on February 16, Marcaida was “advised to assume to the office of the mayor by operation of law”.

The order cited Section 44 of the Local Government Code, which provides that “If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of governor or mayor, the vice-governor or vice-mayor shall become the governor or the mayor”.

Marcaida swore as the new city mayor in front of Palawan Regional Trial Court Judge Angelo Arizala.

However, in an 11-page ruling dated March 20, the Ombudsman granted the motion for reconsideration filed by Karl and downgraded their penalty to three months of suspension without pay. The same ruling downgraded Bayron’s liability to “simple dishonesty,” hence the lesser penalty.

The order also dismissed all criminal charges filed against Bayron and his son.

Three months later, on June 22, The Department of the Interior and Local Governance (DILG) reinstated Bayron.

Marcaida yielded his post to re-installed mayor Lucilo Bayron following a tension-filled confrontation with Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) officials who served the order of reinstatement accompanied by Bayron supporters and members of the Philippine National Police.

Prior to the confrontation, Bayron took his oath of office before Palawan governor Jose Alvarez at the provincial capitol, before proceeding to City Hall to serve the order in a tension-filled confrontation between the two camps.

Marcaida, for his part, took his oath as vice-mayor once again on June 30 in a ceremony held at the barangay hall of Sta. Monica. No city councilor showed up during his oath taking.

Almost a week later, on July 6, Bayron faced another ouster after a new ruling was issued by the Ombudsman saying that the previous decision they had issues was applicable only to Karl, noting that Mayor Bayron had already withdrawn his appeal from the Ombudsman in favor of seeking relief from the Court of Appeals.

In a 17-page ruling dated Aug. 8, the CA Sixth Division found that Bayron “could not be held liable for serious dishonesty” noting that there was “no deliberate or malicious intent” on the part of the mayor to hide his filial relation with his son when he signed the contract of services for the latter. He has been exonerated.

Two days later, on August 10, Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida surprised city officials by taking an oath of office as the city’s chief executive. In interviews, he argued that the decision of the CA was not yet “final and executory” hence Bayron had been effectively replaced.

A legal battle for the mayoral seat of Puerto Princesa had began to gather steam.

On August 11, the camp of Mayor Lucilo Bayron through City Legal Officer Arnel Pedrosa asserted that the Court of Appeals (CA) decision will prevail and Bayron himself will keep his current post until a ruling from the Supreme Court overturns it.

“Sana hindi maguluhan ang taumbayan. ‘Wag na lang sila makinig sa mga nagsasabing dalawa ang mayor dahil hindi totoo ‘yon – isa lang ang mayor,” said Pedrosa.

Days later, City Councilor Nancy Socrates on took over the duties of the city vice mayor, stressing it will be “in an acting capacity”, after vice mayor Luis Marcaida III declared he will no longer perform the office’s regular duties since he has taken an oath of office as mayor of the city.

The CA, in its latest ruling, stated that while it had already absolved Bayron of any administrative liability from the complaint of serious dishonesty filed against him by a certain Aldrin Madreo, it has no jurisdiction over Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida. The CA also declined to issue an order stopping the Ombudsman from implementing its dismissal ruling against him which Bayron’s detractors claim is still legally in effect.

By the end of the month (August 30), Bayron supporters led by Oscar Lapida, filed a petition for recall against Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III, citing “loss of confidence” and claiming the latter to be a “high-value target” in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Four days later (September 4), police arrested Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III following a dawn raid in his house by the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG) based in Camp Crame.

The raiding team arrested Marcaida following the discovery of 30 plastic sachets of shabu reportedly foundl inside his residence. A .22 caliber gun was also retrieved by the raiding team as evidence.

Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III was transferred to the City Jail on September 6 and had been detained since.

On September 22, in a three page letter addressed to DILG Secretary Catalino Cuy and received by the department on September 11, Deputy Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera called on the DILG “to cause the immediate issuance of an order of dismissal against respondent Lucilo Bayron pursuant to the decision of the Ombudsman dated 18 November 2016 and Order dated 6 July 2017.”

The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to re-impose the dismissal order it had issued against Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron.

Following that, supporters of Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III staged a rally September 27 calling on the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to implement an order of the Ombudsman to dismiss Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron in connection with his case for “serious dishonesty.”

Hundreds of supporters of city mayor Lucilo Bayron converged in front of Puerto Princesa City Hall October 2 amidst rumors that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) was set to serve an Ombudsman order dismissing the embattled city mayor from office.

A day later, Bayron’s lawyers sent a memorandum addressed to DILG officials from MIMAROPA, who have reportedly received the instruction from DILG Secretary Catalino  Cuy to serve the dismissal order, to  “cease and desist” from serving the order.

 

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