Two city councilors are backing a petition of the Puerto Princesa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCII) opposing the re-appointment of chief inspector Herald Castillo.
Councilors Jimmy Carbonell and Roy Ventura cited PCCII’s claim that Castillo is still facing various administrative and criminal charges which makes him “unfit for the position”.
“Ako ay naniniwala na ang member ng Palawan Chamber of Commerce ay hindi gagawa ng ganitong petisyon kung wala silang karapatan at mayroon ding pagpapatunay na mayroon silang kaso sa kasalukuyan na nakabinbin sa korte dito sa ating lungsod. Ako ay tahasang tumututol para sa kaniyang designation muli bilang fire marshall bilang city fire ng lungsod ng Puerto Princesa,” Carbonell said.
Castillo, in a phone interview with Palawan News on Wednesday afternoon, said the opposition against his reassignment was a “form of harassment” by some individuals from the private sector.
He claimed that the administrative complaints filed against him before the Ombudsman have already been dismissed.
“Dati labing apat silang nag-file ng kaso sa akin — 14 versus 1 — noong ma-dismiss yon, apat sa kanila nag-file ng kaso, magkakahiwalay na sila kaya may apat nanaman akong kaso sa Ombudsman, hindi nila talaga ako tinitigilan samantalang ako ay hindi gumawa ng kahit ano laban sa kanila,” he said.
“Ito ay harassment [nila] kasi matagal na at na-dismiss na ‘yong mga unang ikinaso nila sa akin sa Ombudsman. Inuungkat na naman nila at naaapektuhan na ang reputasyon ko, pati ‘yong pamilya ko,” he added.
Castillo added, however, that the criminal case pending before the court for alleged extortion will not be prejudicial to his reappointment as the city fire chief, pointing out that he has the right to be presumed “innocent until proven guilty”.
“Kung talagang gusto ko na perwisyuhin sila dahil kinasuhan nila ako, dapat matagal na dahil naging provincial director din ako ng Palawan. 2014 pa ‘yong kaso pero akong ginawa para ipagtanggol maliban sa Ombusdman dahil yon ang legal venue of grievances. Yong mga nagsampa na ibang kasama ko wala na sa serbisyo, ako nandito pa,” Castillo added.
In a letter addressed to the city administrator and the City Council dated July 27, PPCCI expressed “strong opposition” against the reassignment of Castillo, who was also the former city fire marshal of Puerto Princesa.
Carbonell noted that “this a very serious matter” and should consider complaints from the business sector, stating Castillo violated Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act” over the “pecuniary benefits” obtained by Castillo from the applicants for their fire and safety inspection certificate transaction.
Castillo, and other fire officials, is being accused of extorting around P100,000 from a certain businessman over fire certificate issuance.
Castillo also said that only two businessmen were discrediting him. He said that there are certain individuals from the business sector who are preparing a signature campaign in support of his reappointment.
Castillo had since been reassigned to the regional headquarters and sat as Romblon provincial fire marshal. The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has ordered his reappointment as the fire marshal after Castillo completed the mandatory two-year residency in service at each locality.
The City Council has referred the resolutions to a committee hearing for further deliberation.