Sep 29, 2020

Vice Gov. Socrates defends decision to suspend Danao

Vice Governor Victorino Socrates, in a press conference Wednesday, said the main basis for the preventive suspension was their appreciation of the evidence on the claim that Danao abused his authority in giving special permits to cockfighting events.

The Provincial Board on Wednesday justified its decision to impose a 60-day preventive suspension against Narra Mayor Gerandy Danao, stating that there was “strong evidence of guilt” on some of the administrative cases filed against him.

Vice Governor Victorino Socrates, in a press conference Wednesday, said the main basis for the preventive suspension was their appreciation of the evidence on the claim that Danao abused his authority in giving special permits to cockfighting events.

“Fifteen cockfights produced sa sabungan [New Antipuluan Cockpit] na walang prangkisa. May kabigatan ito. In-admit din ng party ni Danao na nag-issue siya ng permit. Habang sinasaliksik namin, lumalabas na mabigat ang polisiya ng batas laban sa sugal in general,” Socrates said.

“Gambling is contrary to public morals. Pinapayagan lamang kung tutupad sa mga strictong condition na nagmumula rin sa batas,” he added.

He said that they felt there were compelling reasons for them to apply the suspension “because of the public policy against gambling.”

“And since the mayor is supposed to be the enforcer of the law. May kabigatan ang paratang na grave misconduct on the issuance of permit and sabong na walang prankisa,” he said.

He clarified however that their determination of guilt will still depend on the evidence that will be presented by both camps during the administrative hearings of the provincial board.

Vote not political

Socrates took pains to explain that their decision was not “politically motivated” acknowledging that Danao does not belong to the party of the present administration.

“We are bound to make our decisions according to the facts. Walang pulitika, gusto man naming paboran ang isang panig o ang kabila ay hindi ganon ‘yon. We are just doing our job,” Socrates said.

Resolve within 120 days

Socrates pointed out that the Local Government Code provides that they have to resolve the case within 120 days, thus prompting them to determine a September 25 deadline.

Three administrative complaints

On May 18, Sangguniang Bayan members led by Vice Mayor Crispin Lumba filed three administrative charges against Danao for gross negligence, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and grave misconduct.

Recommended by the legal office

Socrates disclosed that their decision to suspend Danao was based on the recommendation of the Provincial Legal Office which studied the complaint. He said the board members met on July 27 to receive the recommendation of the provincial lawyers.

“Doon sa final meeting, after listening to the lawyers’ presentation, everyone was in agreement,” Socrates said.

Atty. Jethro Palayon, provincial legal officer explained that the are specific requirements before a preventive suspension can be imposed on a public official.

“Satisfied ang three requirements of preventive suspension. Grave ang offense, kahit saang anggulo natin tingnan. Although it is regulated by law but it is still gambling,” Palayon said.

No influence from Alvarez

Asked to comment on allegations that the Board acted at the behest of Governor Jose Alvarez, who had separately expressed displeasure at Danao, Socrates denied that the governor influenced their decision.

“The Sangguniang Panlalawigan is a co-equal branch at hindi naman pwede diktahan. He (Alvarez) has always been respectful of that separation of powers, of that equality. I don’t think the governor ever entertained the idea of imposing his will against the conscience of the individual members. Alam din ni Governor na lahat kami ay responsible to our conscience,” he said.

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