Sultan Kudarat

Tension grips Sultan Kudarat capital town as suspended mayor tries to reclaim seat

Rommel Rebollido

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Tension grips Sultan Kudarat capital town as suspended mayor tries to reclaim seat

SUPPORTERS. Supporters of Isulan Mayor Marites Pallasigue gather for a prayer-rally outside the town hall on June 14 after the Sultan Kudarat provincial board recommended her suspension. The mayor was ordered suspended on Monday, June 26.

Isulan municipal government

Isulan town's suspended mayor invokes a 2011 administrative order which states that an appeal to Malacanang stays the execution of a suspension order

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Tension gripped Sultan Kudarat’s capital town as its suspended mayor tried to get her job back on Monday, July 3. But the acting mayor refused to leave the mayor’s seat, saying there were legal issues that needed to be resolved first.

Isulan Mayor Marites Pallasigue, who showed documents and a certification from Malacañang, went to the town hall with many cheering supporters who braved the rain to see her. She had hoped to have a peaceful transition back to her position.

She presented a letter about her re-assumption of office and a June 30 certification from the Malacanang Records Office, stating that the Palace received on June 27 a notice of appeal from her.

On June 26, Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Ali Mangudadatu suspended Pallasigue for 60 days based on the recommendation of the provincial board. 

The suspension order was related to three administrative cases filed last January and March against the mayor for alleged negligence, dereliction of duty, irregularities in duty, and conduct harmful to public service.

The complainants in these cases include Vice Mayor Arnold Armada and town legislators Carlo Apiado, Jenalyn Mejia, Moises Dolar, Marvin Dalanon, Darlene Lama, and several barangay chairpersons.

The administrative complaints against the mayor are due, in part, to alleged delays in submitting executive orders to the provincial governor and the construction of a new municipal hall building.

But Pallasigue wasted no time and filed a notice of appeal through lawyer Jonathan Pantojan, a day after she was ordered suspended. Pantojan managed to secure a certification about the submission of the notice of appeal from Deputy Executive Secretary Anna Liza Logan.

Lord Dean Castillo, the personal spokesperson of the suspended mayor, told reporters that they were invoking Administrative Order No. 22-2011, which provides that a notice of appeal effectively suspends the execution of a suspension order. 

The stay of execution clause in Section 9 of AO 22-2011 provides, “The execution of the decision/resolution/order appealed from is stayed upon the filing of the Notice of Appeal within the period prescribed herein, provided that the stay of execution shall not apply (a) where provided by special law, and (b) in decisions/resolutions/order of the Department of Interior and Local Government pursuant to AO No. 23 (s. 1992), as amended.”

Castillo said the administrative order provides that an appeal to the Office of the President must be done within 15 days after they received a notice about the decision they want to appeal. 

On June 27, Pallasigue filed a notice of appeal through her lawyer, Jonathan Pantojan. They also requested a certification for the notice from Deputy Executive Secretary Anna Liza Logan.

After submitting the notice of appeal, the administrative case now comes under the Office of the President’s jurisdiction, based on Section 67 of the Local Government Code, said lawyer Emelly delos Santos, the legal officer of Isulan town government.

Pallasigue’s group also cited Opinion No. 123-2021 of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which states that a resolution from a local legislature can be stopped in two ways:

  • If the party can prove that they promptly filed a Notice of Appeal with the Office of the President and get a certification from the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (DESLA) to confirm it.
  • If the Office of the President issues an order to stop the decision of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Pallasigue went to see Vice Mayor Armada, who had taken over as acting mayor, but he argued that a notice of appeal didn’t automatically stop the suspension. Armada took his oath as acting mayor on June 26, the same day Pallasigue was suspended and ceased reporting to office.

Armada, a lawyer, said he will not leave the position without a specific order from higher authorities.

He told Pallasigue that he would follow the law and any legal order until he gets a clear decision.

“With due respect to Mayor Tes (Pallasigue), there must be an order specifically stating the stay,” Armada said.

Armada asserted that a notice of appeal alone didn’t halt the suspension, and pointed out that the document presented to him was merely Pallasigue’s letter addressed to the governor. 

“Let us wait for what the governor says,” Armada said.

But in a July 3 response, Mangudadatu rejected Pallasigue’s assertion that she can assume her tasks and responsibilities as local chief executive again.

Mangudadatu’s letter to Pallasigue read, “I hope this letter finds you well. I regret to inform you that, due to the prevailing circumstances surrounding the preventive suspension order against you, your assumption to office on the basis of Section 9 of Administrative Order No. 22, Series of 2011, as mayor is being denied at this time.”

Mangudadatu added, “Until now, there has been no categorical stay order issued by Malacanang” based on the administrative order. –

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