BY PET MELLIZA/THE BEEKEEPER
Igbaras, Iloilo mayor Vicente Escorpion continues to play it coy in defying the order of the Ombudsman reinstating two town employees it had earlier kicked out.
Municipal treasurer Cynthia Cabanero and accounting clerk Pio Elumba, received October 4 the resolution of the Ombudsman granting their motion for reconsideration, in effect, reversing its order of dismissal from service and reinstating them with full back wages and other emoluments denied them since they were dismissed August 2009.
Escorpion, a lawyer, evaded the Ombudsman’s order which the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) relayed in a communication directing him to execute it, that is, reinstall Cabanero and Elumba.
The counsel for the two employees wrote the Ombudsman – Visayas, a “request for assistance”, informing the latter that Escorpion remained intransigent, thus the request to investigate and if warranted, impose administrative sanction, and file proper criminal action against him.
Pelagio Apostol, Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas, wrote Escorpion October 20 directing him to reinstate Elumba and Cabanero, and also Melba Sullivan, OIC-director of the Bureau of Local Government Finance, to do the same for Cabanero.
Sullivan for some reasons, defied the order while Escorpion, wrote Apostol asking “clarification” on whether or not the reinstatement carried with it payment of back wages. He also told the two employees that the separate letter from the DILG and Apostol did not bind him because they merely “directed” him to reinstate the two.
Escorpion plays cute but awkwardly. He is correct in distinguishing “directory” from “mandatory” provisions; the latter leaves no room for discretion, while the former gives one an option to comply or not. But he uses the law deviously.
The order clearing the two employees administrative liability, leaves no room to doubt on their reinstatement as consequence.
Their reinstatement implies the restoration of back wages and other benefits. As lawyer, Escorpion has no reason to feign ignorance. Even law students know that public servants ordered reinstated by the Ombudsman are entitled to back wages and other benefits.
Memorandum NO. 07, specifically, Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman, reads:
“Section 7. Finality and execution of decision.– Where the respondent isabsolved of the charge, and in case of conviction where the penalty imposed is publiccensure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one month, or a fine equivalent toone month salary, the decision shall be final, executory and unappealable. In all other cases, the decision may be appealed to the Court of Appeals on a verified petition for review under the requirements and conditions set forth in Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the written Notice of the Decision orOrder denying the Motion for Reconsideration.“An appeal shall not stop the decision from being executory. In case the penalty is suspension or removal and the respondent wins such appeal, he shall be considered as having been under preventive suspension and shall be paid the salary and such other emoluments that he did not receive by reason of the suspension or removal.“A decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases shall be executed as a matter of course. The Office of the Ombudsman shall ensure that the decision shall be strictly enforced and properly implemented. The refusal or failure by any officer without just cause to comply with an order of the Office of the Ombudsman to remove, suspend, demote, fine, or censure shall be a ground for disciplinary action against said officer. “
BLGF-6 OIC-director MelbaSullivan got her epiphany after two months of hedging on the Ombudsman’s order. She stopped playing deaf-dumb, and notified Cabanero December 18 to report to work the next day.
Strange: December 18 is a holiday in W. Visayas commemorating Graciano Lopez Janea. Sullivan came to her senses three days after receiving copy of the second request for assistance that Cabanero’s counsel filed, pointing out her conspiracy with Escorpion in defying the Ombudsman.
Elumba, meanwhile, remains unreinstated. Escorpion is playing dumb because, accordingly, the Ombudsman did not specify the position he was to be reinstated to.
Elumba’s records are at the human resource office and all that Escorpion is check his position.
Escorpion’s legalese ratiocination is nothing but a lame excuse.