By DAVE ACHONDO, Staff member, LITO RULONA and SHIELA MAE BUTLIG, Correspondents .
Impending case to test whether or not President
can remove elected official for misconduct .
EX-MAYOR Reuben Canoy’s daughter Rhona personally asked President Duterte to remove Councilor Zaldy Ocon from office for conduct unbecoming when the Chief Executive came over to swear into office local PDP-Laban candidates who won in the May elections.
Canoy told the Gold Star Daily that her family would soon file a complaint against Ocon over the way he treated her 90-year-old father at the lobby of VIP Hotel, and would not settle for anything but removal from office.
According to Canoy, there is a provision in the Local Government Code of 1991 that states that an elective local official may be removed from office on grounds of misconduct in office.
Canoy said, “It wasn’t the first time that he (Ocon) did something like this. I told the President that he can do it for the Canoy family.”
Last year, Ocon was slapped with a six-month suspension order by the Office of the Ombudsman for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, specifically, for slapping a traffic aide.
Canoy said the President has seen the video recording of Ocon berating her father at the hotel lobby while the ex-mayor sat on a wheelchair.
The complaint, she said, would be sent to the Office of the President through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
She said even the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has shown interest in the case because the councilor vented his anger upon a senior citizen.
A lawyer, James Judith, said the impending case of the Canoys against Ocon would likely start a legal debate on whether or not the President can remove an elected official because of this provision: “An elective local official may be removed from office on the grounds enumerated above by order of the proper court.”
But Judith said there is an “untested” provision in Republic Act 5185 — An Act Granting Further Autonomous Powers to Local Governments — that may be used by those seeking Ocon’s removal from public office by the President.
Judith said RA 5185 provides that “misconduct in the office” is one of the grounds for the removal of an elected official from office.
“Let me just emphasize that this is just my legal theory because this has never been tested. There is no jurisprudence to support this,” he said.
Part of Section 5 of the law cited by Judith reads: “Within 30 days after the end of investigation, the President, Provincial Board, City or Municipal Council, as the case may be, shall render its decision in writing…”
On Wednesday, angry residents started trooping to the Press Freedom Monument at the Vicente de Lara Park to sign a petition for the removal of Ocon.
Remove Ocon Movement spokesperson Therecilla “Tes” Dael Padla said the signature campaign is a response to the “distasteful actions” of the councilor.
“We are a conglomeration of different political colors; this is not a political group. Lain-lain me nay ‘Dilawan,’ ‘Dutertards’ ug uban pa. But we have come together for a common cause — that is, to ease out this person from the city,” Padla said.
She said the petition also seeks to declare Ocon “persona non grata.”
“Gusto namo siya mapapahawa dili lang sa city council kun dili sa Cagayan de Oro City,” said Padla, adding that Ocon is originally from the Davao region.
According to Padla, her group’s aim is to gather 100 thousand signatures from this city’s two districts or at least 50 thousand to be used against Ocon.
“What I understand with legal luminaries is we need 50 thousand signatures, and we think we can reach it,” she said.
Padla said the Canoys may opt to use the petition and signatures when they file their case against Ocon.
“We are also thinking of sending it to the ombudsman,” she said.
Padla said the signature campaign could start recall proceedings against Ocon.
“Lastly, we want this to reach the President’s office,” she said.
Padla said the spat between Ocon and ex-mayor Canoy at VIP Hotel merely served as a catalyst, and people started remembering Ocon’s excesses in the past.
“Na-recall dayun tanan iyang mga abusive acts,” she said.
Padla said Ocon slapped a traffic aide, shamed a person on air because of his sexual orientation, and was linked to an attempt to bring in illegally cut lumber when, ironically, the councilor chairs the city council’s environment committee.
She noted that former mayor Canoy, aside from being a senior citizen, is also a person with disability.
“Nahimo man gani niya kang Atty. Canoy, how much more ato mga mayukmok lang,” she said.
The signature campaign, which would be expanded, would run until the end of the month. Padla said an online petition is also being prepared at presstime.
On Sunday, Padla said the signature campaign would be brought to the St. Augustine Cathedral.
Rhona Factura, one of those gathering signatures for the petition, said many residents have had enough of Ocon’s “bad behavior.”
Factura said a number of barangay officials, specifically from Ocon’s district, have volunteered to help in the signature campaign.
“Other volunteer groups moadto sa mga malls and churches. Lahi sab ang na-assign sa mga kamerkaduhan,” she said. (with Herbie Gomez)