By Nora Soriño
GSD-Iligan City Bureau Chief
Sita Asequia, Correspondent
and Ric Palahang, Contributor
ILIGAN City — The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the suspension of Vice Mayor Jemar Vera-Cruz and most members of the city council for one month and one day.
In a decision dated Sept. 4, a copy of which was shown to the Gold Star Daily, Ma. Faith Llanto-Presbitero, a graft investigator of the Office of the Ombudsman, said Vera-Cruz and the city councilors were found guilty of “simple misconduct.”
Suspended along with Vera Cruz are councilors Samuel Huertas, Eric Capitan, Jesse Ray Balanay, Demosthenes Plando, Belinda Lim, Sorilie Christine Bacsarpa, Ian Uy, Randy Ryan Francis Ong, Bernard Pacana, Petronilo Pardillo, Renato Ancis, and Datu Diamla Rolando D. So-ong.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the Oct. 17 decision.
Councilors Queenie Belmonte and Cesarve Siacor were not included as respondents in the complaint filed by former congressman Vicente Belmonte Jr. and former vice mayor Ruderic Marzo. She is a daughter of the ex-congressman.
The other respondents in the complaint were not held liable by the Ombudsman for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, dishonesty, grave misconduct, and grave abuse of authority.
They are Mayor Celso Regencia, city legal officer Voltaire Rovira, city administrator Dexter Rey Sumaoy, department head II Rafael Benedictos, city budget officer Marina Jumalon, and city treasurer Louella Maybituin.
Belmonte’s complaint stemmed from Regencia’s assumption as mayor while in detention at the Tipanoy jail in connection with his alleged involvement in the Dec. 11, 2014 ambush of the then congressman Belmonte near the Laguindingan airport.
Regencia was released from detention after the criminal cases against him were dismissed by the courts.
The ombudsman said that while in detention, Regencia appointed Rovira, Sumaoy and Benedictos, and then the city council concurred the appointments.
Vice Mayor Vera-Cruz said they have yet to receive an official copy of the suspension order, and the Department of Interior and Local Government has yet to serve it.
“We are still functioning and performing our duties,” said Vera Cruz.
Over local radio, Vera-Cruz said the suspension order may be served anytime soon. (with frank dosdos jr.)