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Ombudsman dismisses Aklan mayor over Boracay negligence

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed Malay, Aklan Mayor Ciceron Cawaling and his licensing officer Jen Salsona for grave misconduct and other offenses linked to the environmental degradation of popular island paradise Boracay.

In a statement released on Wednesday, April 24, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said it served the Ombudsman's dismissal order, which cited Cawaling and Salsona as guilty of gross neglect of duty, conduct unbecoming of a public official, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.

Cawaling's vice mayor Abram Sualog will serve as the acting mayor of Malay.

"We hope that other LGUs (local government units) will now be more proactive in protecting the environment and will not wait for the DILG to file cases against them. We urge other LGUs especially in the Manila Bay watershed area to take their responsibilities seriously and work closely with the DILG in the rehabilitation and cleanup efforts," DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said in the statement.

The administrative charges stemmed from the DILG finding establishments under the officials' watch as operating without the required fire safety inspection certificates and other permits. The Ombudsman decision was approved on Monday, April 22, by Ombudsman Samuel Martires and received by the DILG on the same day.

While the cases against Cawaling and Salsona prospered in the Ombudsman's office, other cases were not as well-founded.

The DILG said administrative cases over Boracay against the following officials were dismissed for "lack of substantial evidence":

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