Nov 24, 2020

Tribal leader and independent mayor of Rizal town slapped with administrative charges by political opponents

Ong, citing growing unease among Rizal residents, accused Odi of gross negligence, serious dishonesty, falsification of documents and grave misconduct by citing separate specific instances.

 

Rizal mayor and Palawa’an tribal leader Otol Odi was slapped with four separate administrative complaints by his own vice mayor, Norman Ong, on Friday before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Ong, citing growing unease among Rizal residents, accused Odi of gross negligence, serious dishonesty, falsification of documents, and grave misconduct by citing separate specific instances.

A spokesperson of Odi, speaking to Palawan News following the filing of the cases, claimed he was being politically harassed.

During the filing of his complaint at the Office of the Secretariat, Ong was accompanied by his executive assistant and two Rizal Sangguniang Bayan members.

The cases cite two counts of gross negligence — one for the alleged questionable appointment of the town’s secretary to the Rizal Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC), and another for unauthorized withdrawal of cash from the council’s confidential fund.

The complaint also accused Odi of “serious dishonesty and falsification of documents” for allegedly making a false account of the minutes of an MPOC meeting in 2019, and three counts of grave misconduct for purchasing rice from an outside contractor instead of from local farmers.

Ong also accused Odi of grave abuse of authority for allegedly disbursing nearly P13-million to Rizal households as cash relief aid without prior consultation with the Rizal Sangguniang Bayan.

In an interview with Palawan News the same day, Ong said that his complaints represent the people of Rizal’s growing discontent with Odi.

“Kung tatanungin nga ako, kung sino ang mga nasa likod ko, marami. Maraming taumbayan na nagre-react na. Maganda nga kung maka-interview kayo ng mga taumbayan ng Rizal, maririnig ninyo ang mga saloobin nila,” he said.

Ong said that his complaint was nothing personal, stating that Odi is a “close family friend”.

“Kung sa personal, wala naman iyon, dahil kaibigan naman namin si mayor. May mga bagay na tinulungan namin siya. Tsaka kaibigan din siya ng pamilya ko. Kaya lang, di maiwasan na may mga ganyan, kasi binoto tayo ng taumbayan,” he said. “Hindi naman ako sumuko agad. Pinuntahan ko pa, kinausap ko pa, sinabihan ko kung kailangan niya ng tulong nandiyan lang kami.”

 

Reaction from Odi’s camp

A spokesman of Mayor Odi dismissed the case as “political” but vowed they will face the charges before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

“Antayin lang namin siguro ang Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Para ma-discuss na nila. Suportado naman ng mga dokumento ang aming reklamo,” Odi’s spokesman Arthur Asutilla said.

Asutilla admitted that Ong, being a first-term mayor, is not familiar with administrative procedures.

“Alam naman natin na katutubo si mayor. Noong umupo sya ay aminado naman sya na may mga hindi pa sya nalalaman. Kung si mayor lang sana hindi papaabutin sa ganito pero nasa kanila naman ‘yon kung ano ang gagawin nila. Sasagot lang kami kung kailangan,” Asutilla said.

“Sana i-assist sya kung ano at saan ang mali. Pero ayon na nga, alam namin na magpa-file sila ng kaso at haharapin ‘yon ni mayor,” he added.

Odi, a Palaw’an tribal leader who ran as an independent, won by a landslide vote during the last elections against an incumbent opponent who was backed by the current administration’s party.

Odi’s case before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan mirrors an almost the same circumstance as that of Narra Mayor Gerandy Danao, who is currently under preventive suspension, on account of administrative cases lodged against him by his own Vice Mayor and town council members.

 

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