Mayor Lani Cayetano indicted for padlocking Taguig session hall
MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has indicted Taguig Mayor Laarni "Lani" Cayetano and another city official for preventing members of the city council from holding regular sessions in 2010.
Cayetano and officer-in-charge City Administrator Jose Montales were charged for violation of Article 143 of the Revised Penal Code for padlocking the session hall and preventing members of the Sangguniang Panglungsod (SP) to hold regular sessions, the Ombudsman said in a statement on Thursday, August 6.
Article 143 of the RPC penalizes persons who, by force or fraud, prevent or tend to prevent the meetings of local legislative bodies.
The case stemmed from the eviction of the SP from its traditional venue, forcing it to transfer to a small room at the city auditorium in August 2010.
The Ombudsman said the limited space of the new meeting venue compelled the SP to hold its proceedings on the city hall's staircase on its maiden session, and in various venues inside and outside the city hall for the next 14 sessions.
The SP members alleged that Cayetano's move to padlock the session hall "was an act of hostility, premeditated and executed with undue haste, affording no prior consultation and no prior notice," the Ombudsman said in its resolution.
"Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales junked the respondents’ explanation that the move was part of the city’s reengineering and reorganizational plan, noting that there was no plan nor a semblance of a project study that would validate the necessity of effecting immediate change in the layout of the city hall offices," it added.
The Ombudsman said in its resolution that "the documentary evidence, as well as respondents’ own admissions, belied their claim that any 'reorganizational or reengineering plan' with respect to city hall offices actually existed."
The Ombudsman also established that respondents failed to comply with Section 45(b), Article I, Chapter III of the Local Government Code.
It said this requires that the power bestowed upon the local chief executive to assign and allocate office spaces must be exercised for the purpose of promoting efficient and economical governance, for “the exercise of any power, whether express or implied, must be rational. The exercise necessarily precludes any arbitrariness or abuse.”
Cayetano eased the Tingas' grip on Taguig when she was elected mayor in 2010, winning over retired Supreme Court justice Dante Tinga by only 2,420 votes. She gets help from her husband, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, in navigating city politics. (READ: The Cayetanos: A conjugal rule in Taguig)
In 2013, she was challenged by Tinga's youngest daughter, Rica, who lost. Their intense rivalry led to a violent encounter between their supporters. (READ: Violence in Taguig) – Rappler.com