Sedition complaint filed vs Puerto Princesa mayor, others

Keith Anthony S. Fabro

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Sedition complaint filed vs Puerto Princesa mayor, others
Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron and other public officials are facing charges after they prevented DILG representatives from implementing the dismissal order against him

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan – A civic group has filed sedition and obstruction of justice charges against Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron and several government officials and private individuals for preventing the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) from reimplementing the dismissal order against the mayor.

Complainant Mansueto Fuertes, representing a group called Advocates for Excellent Government, filed the complaint before the Office of the City Prosecutor on Friday, October 13.

Fuertes claimed that Bayron and his co-respondents, along with their supporters, “intentionally converged at the entrance of the New City Hall building” since October 1 “to obstruct the service” of the dismissal order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman sometime in September.

The co-respondents inclide Bayron’s executive assistants, program managers and department heads, namely Richard Ligad, Elizabeth Maclang, Oscar Lapida Jr, Joseph Vincent Carpio, David Martinez, Andrew Russel, Haydie Dizon, Violeta Dalonos, Renato Estrada, Epitacio Abrea, Danny Abrea, Glenn Mohagan, Allan Naraga, Pedro Calamba, Jonathan Magay, Karl Bayron, and Feliboy Oliveros.

City Councilors Modesto Rodriguez II, Victor Oliveros, Rolando Amurao and Nesario Awat; and Bayron’s supporters, private contractor Macasaet Builders’ Jonathan Macasaet, and Radio Bandera commentators Elgin Robert Damasco and Louie Larrosa, were also named as respondents in the complaint.

Fuertes accused the co-respondents, particularly those working for the city government, of conspiring with Bayron “in inciting the public and their supporters” to back the mayor in his “unlawful cause,” and “to protect and aid” him in case the DILG would attempt to reimplement the dismissal order. 

Political confusion, crisis

On November 18, 2016, the Ombudsman found Bayron guilty over a “serious dishonesty and grave misconduct” case filed against him for hiring his son, Karl, as head of his security group, without disclosing their filial relationship. Mayor Bayron had been dismissed from service and perpetually disqualified from holding any public office. 

In March, the Ombudsman granted Karl’s motion for reconsideration, downgrading the case to “simple dishonesty” and reducing the penalty for both respondents to a 3-month suspension. This paved the way for Mayor Bayron’s reinstatement in June. (READ: Bayron regains seat as Puerto Princesa mayor)

A month after Bayron’s reinstatement, the Ombudsman issued a July 6 ruling, stating that the suspension penalty only applied to Karl, and that it had “lost jurisdiction over the case” as the mayor had already withdrawn his appeal and had sought relief from the Court of Appeals (CA). This spelled yet another termination for the embattled mayor.

The CA overturned the Ombudsman’s decision on Bayron’s case in August, but the  Ombudsman stood its ground and directed the DILG to proceed with the implementation of the restored dismissal order.

City Hall on lockdown

On October 9, Bayron asserted that the CA decision on his case has rendered the Ombudsman’s original and restored dismissal order invalid.  

“That nullification effectively carries with it the nullification of its implementing writ and removes the issuance of another implementing writ,” he told his supporters, who had formed a human barricade at the City Hall’s entrance for two weeks.

Meanwhile, complainant Fuertes criticized City Hall’s strict security measure wherein non-regular employees hired by Bayron “stringently inspected” the belongings of almost every individual to search for the dismissal order and ask them if they were from the DILG.

“While their supporters were guarding the main entrance of the New City Hall, respondents sang and played a videoke machine to entertain their followers, consequently disturbing various offices in City Hall,” he said, adding the said acts “obstructed the [building’s] smooth flow of day-to-day business.”

“The City’s garbage and dump trucks, together with those belonging to private contractors and supporters, were parked at the entrance and exit roads of the City Hall compound, creating traffic jams,” he noted.

City DILG Director Rey Maranan and Regional DILG Director Florida Dijan were also included as case respondents, pointing out their non-compliance to the directive of Acting DILG Secretary Catalino Cuy.

Fuertes said Dijan made no attempt to serve the order since he arrived last week in Palawan.

“To date, the Office of the City DILG is closed.  Respondents Dijan and Maranan were nowhere to be seen during this period of confusion at the City Government of Puerto Princesa,” he added.

City security group chief Martinez told the media that violence may ensue if the DILG officials forcibly tried to get inside the City Hall to serve the order.

‘No sedition, obstruction’

Reached for comment, City Legal Officer and Acting City Administrator Arnel Pedrosa maintained that only the Ombudsman has the “preliminary jurisdiction over the case of Mayor Bayron,” not the city prosecutor.

He said Bayron and his co-respondents committed “no sedition because one of the elements, which is ‘rising tumultuously,’ is lacking.”

Pedrosa also added that “there is no obstruction [of justice] because [there’s] no attempt from the DILG.” “There is crime only when there is overt act, so [there’s] no violation of PD 1829,” he argued.

The City Prosecutor’s Office will soon issue a subpoena to the respondents, asking them to file their respective counter-affidavits prior to the preliminary investigation. –

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