Puerto Princesa’s mayoralty dilemma

City Hall is stuck between a rock and a hard face in terms of untangling the confusion set by the Ombudsman’s latest stance dismissing Mayor Lucilo Bayron from office. A recent Ombudsman memo addressed to DILG Secretary Catalino Cuy giving the department 10 days to implement its dismissal ruling lapsed this week with not even an official statement coming from the department.

It is rather unusual, as the Ombudsman’s flip-flopping decision on the case is quite strange. First it hands down a guilty verdict, then reverses its decision, not once but twice, at the instance of appeals and counter motions filed by opposing parties to the case.

Well, the Ombudsman’s latest ruling is to dismiss Bayron. But the matter has not been laid to rest because the DILG did not and would not budge. Don’t expect the chief executive, President Rodrigo Duterte, to fairly intervene and order his official alter ego, DILG Secretary Catalino Cuy, to follow what is strictly speaking a valid order. The president has made no qualms about destroying the Ombudsman, which he recently accused of corruption after the latter disclosed early findings of the President’s hidden wealth.

It should therefore be the judiciary to straighten things up. Yet, the latest ruling issued by the Court of Appeals on this case was not exactly of any help either. The CA ruling, issued August 24, while exonerating Mayor Bayron, also did not stop the Ombudsman from implementing the dismissal order.

It should therefore appear that the final resolution of Mayor Bayron’s case rests on the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, this matter will continue to confuse everyone over who is the City of Puerto Princesa’s legitimate mayor. Depending on who one asks, it’s either Bayron by virtue of the CA ruling or detained Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida by operation of the rule of succession.

This is a sorry state of affairs because the unclarity of the situation has crippled City Hall’s operations and, more importantly, wedged a sinister division in the local body politic and distracted the civil service from performing its tasks.

And no one is coming to the rescue.


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