BAGUIO CITY – The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal from the service of the incumbent regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Region III after finding substantial evidence to hold him guilty of grave misconduct.
In a 14-page consolidated decision penned by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III Lauren Gail D. Divino-Sudweste, aside from being dismissed from the service, and approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires, the eligibility of lawyer Roland P. Calde, who also served as the regional director of NCIP-CAR, was canceled coupled with the forfeiture of retirements benefits and perpetual disqualification for re-employment in the government service pursuant to Section 10, Rule III of Administrative Order No. 07 as amended by Administrative Order No. 17 in relation to Section 25 of Republic Act (RA) 6770.
The decision stated that in case the penalty of dismissal can no longer be enforced due to Calde’s separation from the service, the penalty shall be converted into a fine equivalent to his salary for one year, payable to the Office of the Ombudsman, and may be deducted from his retirement benefits, accrued leave credits or any receivables from his office.
Further, the accessory penalties attached to the principal penalty of dismissal shall continue to be imposed.
The decision directed the Chairman of the NCIP under the Office of the President to implement the said decision immediately upon receipt.
However, the charges for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and gross ignorance of the law against Calde were dismissed for lack of substantial evidence.
On the other hand, the complaint against Abilene A. Cirilo was dismissed for lack of substantial evidence.
The cases stemmed from two separate complaints filed by Roger D. Sinot who alleged, among others, that he is the duly selected Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) for Baguio City, thus, the NCIP Baguio service center requested for the issuance of a certificate of affirmation in his favor.
Calde, who was the former NCIP-CAR regional director then, allegedly refused to issue the said certificate because he was reportedly discriminating against him and is allegedly favoring candidates from another group of indigenous peoples in the city.
Calde denied the allegations against him and averred that in view of the provisions of NCIP Administrative Order No. 001, series of 2009, in relation to DILG-NCIP Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2011, calling for the selection of IPMR in local government units, the NCIP-CAR, after a series of preparations and planning, came out with the issuance of NCIP-CAR Regional Director Memo No. OG-PO-15-503 which was issued to all provincial officers and service center heads where it re-echoed the provisions of inclusivity and full participation of all indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples and mandates the NCIP to ensure that all ICCs or IPs residing within the political jurisdiction of a given local government shall actively participate in the said selection process.
The NCIP-CAR was in receipt of several letters and resolutions from the various IPs in the city expressing their desire to have an IPMR in the city council.
He narrated that on November 15, 2016, his office received an appeal protest alleging several irregularities in the selection of Sinot as the IPMR of the city aside from receiving a letter dated January 9, 2017 from Joseph Sacley stating that Sinot is not qualified to sit as IPMR in the city because he is not a resident of Baguio and he voted in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya during the May 2-16 elections.
The petitioners advanced the information that Sinot was convicted for theft by the Regional trial Court (RTC) of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, thus, Calde created a regional review body for Baguio IPMR where the body’s recommendation was based on technicalities that will put no end to the said controversy.
The Ombudsman found substantial evidence to hold Calde administratively liable for grave misconduct for allegedly transgressing the guidelines of the local guidelines in the mandatory representation of indigenous peoples in the city council where he willfully violated the said rules by creating a review body to review and make recommendations on the selection process.
When the findings and recommendations of the view body were in favor of Sinot, the decision pointed out that Calde once again disregarded the same and remanded the protest to the Baguio service center.
When the Baguio service center confirmed the regularity and validity of the selection process, Calde again issued another Memorandum creating a body headed by Cirilo to look into the protest on Sinto’s selection as IPMR and then came up with a decision against Sinot’s confirmations IPMR.
The decision argued that the above acts of Calde are discriminatory against Sinot, considering that the previous findings and recommendations by the review body and the Baguio service center already found Sinot’s selection as IPMR to be in order.
According to the ruling, the protest against Sinot’s selection as IPMR should have been addressed pursuant to the conditions laid down under Section 7 of the local guidelines on the mandatory representation of indigenous peoples in the city which was ratified by the ICCs/IPs gathered in a plenary session on November 4, 2016.
Despite the opinion by the NCIP central office favoring the issuance of the certificate of affirmation to Sinot, the decision emphasized that Calde still discriminated the latter by unduly delaying the issuance of the same, thus, it appears that Calde steadfastly refused to issue the required certificate in favor of Sinot.