Beleaguered Narra town mayor Gerandy Blanco Danao, by himself, filed his formal urgent motion for partial reconsideration last Thursday, along with an urgent motion to defer the implementation to suspend for six months.

The order was issued by the Office of the Ombudsman on April 5, 2022, alleging his violation of the anti-red tape law.

The legal actions of Danao were covered by Palawan News as he was assisted by his volunteer legal team, led by Manila-based lawyer Peter Paul L. Danao from the Madrid Danao law firm. They prepared the pleadings, which were submitted before the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City on the morning of May 18, complying with the procedural rules dictated by the court.

Veteran lawyer Edwin B. Gastanes, a native of Narra town, was also present to provide legal counsel and moral support for Danao.

In his 8-page motion for reconsideration that was obtained by Palawan News, it revealed that Danao had sought relief before the Ombudsman stating that: “Immediately upon filing hereof, the implementation of the decision dated April 5, 2022 be deferred and or suspended; and

“After due proceedings, this Honorable Office partially reconsiders its decision dated April 2, 2022 insofar as it found him liable for violation of RA 11032 that a new order be issued dismissing the complaint in its entirety. Other reliefs, just or equitable under the premises are also prayed for.”

Danao cited as main grounds that the Ombudsman failed to consider that as early as February 23, 2023, the complainant Citinickel already withdrew its complaint since the LGU of Narra has “respected Citinickel’s peaceful conduct of business”.

Danao added that the assailed decision violates respondent’s right to due process since it did not consider respondent’s verified letter-answer dated March 18, 2022, in response to the letter dated October 28, 2020, of the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Bureau (PACPB)–Luzon Director Raquel Marayag in relation to the request for assistance (RAS) that should have been considered as his counter-affidavit pursuant to the principle of liberal application of the rules.

“In any event, the office of the Ombudsman gravely erred in holding respondent purportedly liable for violation RA 11032 otherwise known as the anti-red tape law,” Danao said.

He explained that the cited business permit requirements were not additional requirements but integral and essential part in determining “whether the Citinickel has fully paid its taxes and fees due to the LGU, which is one of the basic requirements prior to the renewal of a business permit.

“There is no actual damage and prejudice to the operations of Citinickel since it was operating and still continuously operating to date,” mayor Danao said that “the subject matter of the complaint has been mooted by the issuance of a mayor’s permit in favor of Citinickel in August 2020.”

Gastanes said there was no law that prohibited the mayor to make additional requirements for him to issue a mayor’s permit.

“Even if the Ombudsman has cited the list of requirements mention in the Narra Charter, there is no prohibition of the law,” Gastanes said.

Gastanes used, by analogy, as an example the business of media that was required by law to be one a hundred percent Filipino-owned.

“How can you know that a certain media entity is one hundred percent Filipino? As a mayor, you may require the media agency to submit the copy of their respective passports to know their citizenship as an additional requirements as an integral part of the necessary requirements before the issuance of mayor’s permit,” Gastanes said.

Danao said he was prompted to require the Citinickel mining firm to submit a list of heavy equipments and dump truck and its drivers and operators because he had received reports that there were equipments and trucks that were allowed to operate and haul nickel ores inside the mining area but were not owned by the company.

“They did not allow our team to inspect the mining area. I did not know why. How about if an accident happened in the course of operation, that I learned later on that these trucks or the heavy equipments were owned by a private individual and not the Citinickel? What will we do? I will be blamed because I am the town mayor, because I allowed them to operate. Are the Citinickel all owned these dump trucks that were used in their hauling,” Danao said.

Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Juan Victor Llamas told the Palawan News that the DILG had not yet received any hard copy of the Ombudsman decision suspending Danao.

As of press time, Llamas said they would comply with the Ombudsman once they had an official copy of the decision as they had to follow the law.

“As of now, we have not received a copy of the order coming form the Ombudsman,” Llamas said.

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