BAGUIO CITY – The Office of the Ombudsman junked a petition by alleged informal settlers in barangay Balsigan to impose a preventive suspension against six officials and employees of the city government in relation to an administrative case of grave misconduct they failed against them.
In a 6-page order prepared by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Anjuli Larla A. Tan-Eneran and subsequently approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, it stated that since not all the necessary conditions to justify the preventive suspension of Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, City Administrator Carlos M. Canilao, City Building Official Johnny Degay, City Demolition Team Head Nazita Bañez, City Public Order and Safety Division Head Policarpio C. Cambod and Engr. Brigida Ancheta, were not present, this office has no recourse except to deny the complainant’s prayer for the issuance of a preventive suspension order.
The order defined a preventive suspension is a preliminary step in an administrative investigation and is usually made immediately effective and executor to prevent respondent from using his or her position or office to influence the prospective witnesses or tamper with the records which may be vital to the prosecution of the case.
“In this case, however, complainants already submitted to this office all the documents necessary to prove respondents’ alleged illegal demolition and manifest partiality towards Bumugao, thereby eliminating the possibility of using their offices/positions to influence the investigation/outcome of the present case,” the decision stated.
Earlier, complainants Mary Grace Bandoy, Basilio Lipawen, Alfonxo Mangili and Francisco Ramos petition3ed the Ombudsman for the preventive suspension of the six Baguio City officials and employees pending adjudication of their administrative complaint for grave misconduct.
The complainants claimed to be in open, continuous, adverse and notorious possession of a public land located at barangay Balsigan here, Upper Bakakeng, Baguio City for more than ten years.
Sometime in 2008, Dina Lutes Balinggan, representative of spouses Elpidio and Nenita Dematera, the alleged registered owners of the property, filed a letter before the city anti-squatting and anti-illegal structures committee asking for the demolition of complainants homes erected thereon.
However, the complainants contended that Dematera’s title over the property is fake because it did not undergo the requisite validation under Presidential Decreee No. 1271 and that Balinggan even offered to sell the property to them for P15 million.
As a result of Balinggan’s letter and after investigation, the respondents caused the alleged selective demolition of the structures on the property beginning May 7, 2014, leaving standing and untouched the house of Mauricio Bomogao, despite the latter being included in all the notices and proceedings on the demolition.
The complainants argued that the conduct of demolition in the area was illegal because it violated Section 28 of Republic Act (RA) 7279, Department of Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular No. 2008-143 and the guidelines on requesting for police assistance in demolition or eviction activities under the Urban Development and Housing Act.
Furthermore, they pointed out that respondents manifested partiality towards Bomogao and it is further demonstrated by the latter’s exclusion from the subsequent notices pertaining to the continuing demolition of the structures within the property., thus, praying for the preventive suspension of the city officials and employees.
Under Section 9 of Rule III of the Rules of Procedures of the Office of the Ombudsman, respondents may be preventively suspended without pay pending investigation if, in the judgement of the Ombudsman or his proper Deputy, the following conditions are met: the evidence of guilt is strong and either the charge against such officer or employee involves dishonesty, oppression or gross misconduct, or gross neglect in the performance of duty or the charge would warrant removal from the service or the respondents continued stay in office may prejudice the just, fair and independent disposition of the case filed against them.