Zamboanga del Norte

Zamboanga del Norte town mayor dismissed over illegal cockfight permits

Gualberto Laput

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Zamboanga del Norte town mayor dismissed over illegal cockfight permits
Former Sindangan town Mayor Rosendo Labadlabad and five barangay officials are perpetually barred from holding government office

ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) provincial director has secretly implemented on Friday, January 26, the Ombudsman’s Dismissal Order against Sindangan town Mayor Rosendo Labadlabad and five barangay officials.

The Ombudsman found Labadlabad guilty of grave misconduct for issuing permits to hold the cockfights called tari-tari to barangay chairmen Antonio Mohametano, Zosima dela Cerna, Joselito Espinas, and Mysandro Dagondong, and barangay treasurer Rebecca Pacas.

By law, government officials “are not qualified to such permits.” Labadlabad and the barangay officials are also perpetually barred from holding government office while the criminal aspect of the same cases was already elevated to the Sandiganbayan.

PUNISHED. Dismissed mayor Rosendo Labadlabad of Sindangan town in Zamboanga del Norte. Photo by Gualberto Laput/Rappler

DILG Provincial Director Oliver Ombos granted Labadlabad’s request to keep the implementation off the media, which the main complainant – retired Sangguniang Bayan secretary Leoncio Orillosa – described as “Labadlabad’s way of saving face.”

“Bisan kami wala gyud kabalo unsay gibuhat ni sir, milakaw siya adtong (January 25) ug wala pa kabalik, basin miadto sa Ipil (town in Zamboanga Sibugay) kay mouli man na siya kada-weekend,” Ombos’ staff told Rappler on January 26 at their office in Dipolog City.

(We don’t know what (Ombos) is dong, he went out at noon on January 25 and has not yet returned, we thought he went to Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay, he used to go home every weekend.)

Ombos reportedly went alone to the Office of the Mayor in Sindangan at 3 pm on January 26 to serve the Ombudsman’s Dismissal Order, which was received by Labadlabad’s lawyer Roldan Dalman.

Vice Mayor Florentino Sy posted on his Facebook account on January 27 that he was immediately installed the new mayor, though he described himself as the “acting mayor” in an obvious deference to Labadlabad.

NEW MAYOR. Sindangan town Vice Mayor Florentino Sy took his oath as new mayor before Goleo Barangay Captain Albert Jamora while being witnessed by DILG Provincial Director Oliver Ombos. Photo from Florentino Sy.

Nevertheless, Orillosa vowed to bring Ombos to the Ombudsman for “dilly-dallying and being unfair” in the implementation of the dismissal order by giving Labadlabad a “kid-glove treatment” while “brutally swift” to other government officials.

In a letter to DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos last week, Orillosa cited Section 5 (3) of the Ombudsman Act of 1989 that says the Ombudsman “can take appropriate action against a public officer or employee at fault or who neglect to perform an act or discharge a duty”

Earlier, on December 1 last year, Assistant Ombudsman Pilarita T. Lapitan ordered DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos to “implement immediately” the dismissal order “notwithstanding the legal remedies pursued by the respondents…”

Labadlabad filed Motion for Reconsideration (MR) to the Ombudsman, which is still pending, and a petition to the Court of Appeals questioning the Ombudsman decision, and asking for temporary restraining order or a writ for preliminary injunction.

The Court of Appeals however dismissed on January 5 Labadlabad’s petition saying it was “premature” as their MR at the Ombudsman is yet to be resolved. – Rappler.com

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