The camp of Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III dismissed the recall petition filed by supporters of Mayor Lucilo Bayron as “irrelevant”, claiming that Marcaida is no longer the city’s sitting vice mayor since taking his oath as mayor.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, in a press conference Wednesday, said the petition for recall is “moot and academic”.
“How can you recall someone who is no longer the vice mayor, but is in fact the lawful mayor of Puerto Princesa?” Topacio said.
He argued that Marcaida’s assumption as mayor when he took his oath on August 10 was legal, even as he warned the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for issuing a statement recognizing Bayron as city mayor.
Topacio was referring to a memorandum issued by DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero recognizing Bayron as the mayor of Puerto Princesa City. He claimed that the DILG committed an error when it refused to recognize Marcaida’s oath.
“We are not bound by your (DILG) memorandum because we are a government of laws and not of men,” he said.
He added that they had formally asked DILG acting secretary Catalino Uy to recognize Marcaida’s assumption, stressing that the ruling of the Ombudsman dismissing Bayron on a charge of “serious dishonesty” is “executory” despite the decision of the Court of Appeals favoring Bayron’s appeal.
“There’s an appeal to the Court of Appeals. But here’s what the law says – an appeal shall not stop the decision (of the Ombudsman) from being executory, so what clarification does the DILG need?” Topacio said.
He argued that the Ombudsman decision dated July 6, 2017 is “immediately executory,” as provided under Section 27 of R.A. 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989.
The Court of Appeals in its August 24 decision upheld Bayron’s acquittal from charges of serious dishonesty but declined to issue an order stopping the Ombudsman from implementing its dismissal ruling against him.
Topacio, who said he was a former DILG assistant secretary for local government in 1999, said seeking clarification from the Ombudsman was DILG’s practice if it did not want to implement an Ombudsman order.
“It’s an old rotten style of DILG that needs to be stopped,” he said.
Citing a provision in the Ombudsman Act, he warned Panadero could face a lawsuit if he continues to refuse implementing such a decision.
“In a letter in 2013 concerning the case of Bangued, Abra mayor, he (Panadero) said the assumption of the vice mayor is automatic and by operation of law, and therefore needs no further act. Now, he’s contradicting his statement,” Topacio said.
Topacio said they will write a letter requesting the Ombudsman to direct the DILG to implement the Ombudsman decision dismissing Bayron and finally recognize Marcaida.
“If push comes to shove, we will file a petition for mandamus for the court to compel the DILG to recognize Mayor Marcaida,” he said.