SP asked to suspend Payo mayor over unauthorized lease contracts

With four months to go before the May 2022 elections, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has been asked to impose preventive suspension on the mayor of Panganiban town pending investigation of an administrative complaint over alleged unauthorized lease contracts.

Last Nov. 22, 2021, Provincial Board Member Alan del Valle, as chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, directed Mayor Cesar Robles to submit within 15 days his answer to Administrative Case No. 004-2021 for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and grave abuse of authority in violation of the Local Government Code of 1991 and Republic Act 9184.

The complaint was filed Nov. 8 by Vice Mayor Remelito Cabrera, who alleged that the mayor entered into a contract of lease for the use of two residential houses in June 2021 without the authority of the Sangguniang Bayan.

He claimed that the municipal council learned of the contracts only two months later when it tackled Mayor Robles’ request for the approval of Supplemental Budget No. 02-21 that included rent expense.

Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator Engr, Rafael Valledor told the council during its Sept. 13, 2021 session that the expense was intended for the rental of two residential houses at P15,000 a month plus utility expense.

On Oct. 25, 2021, Vice Mayor Cabrera received a letter from the chief executive informing that the latter had entered into a lease contract with Remedios Rodulfo and Roger Ocillos, representing Elsie Ocillos, over the two houses used as temporary offices by the local government unit.

Cabrera said in the affidavit-complaint that Mayor Robles committed grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and grave abuse of authority by acting beyond the prescribed limitations in the exercise of the corporate powers of the LGU and of his functions, consequently betraying the public trust by violating Sec. 22 (c) and Sec/ 444 (b)(l)(vi) of the LGC.

He stated that, sans prior authorization from the SB, the mayor pursued the execution of the lease contracts, with MPDC Valledor not even mentioning the existence of the contracts during the Sept. 13, 2021 session.

In no instance did the LGU ever comply with the procurement guidelines under Republic Act 9184.

Likewise, he said, there were material defects in the contract documents, including lack of specifications, payment terms, and a special power of attorney executed by Elsie Ocillos in favor of her representative.

In seeking the investigation of the alleged anomaly, Cabrera urged the provincial board to place the mayor under preventive suspension “since his continuance in office could influence the witnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other evidence.

Last Nov. 18, ten days after the complaint was filed at the SP, Mayor Robles wrote the Sangguniang Bayan to request authority to enter into the lease agreement with the owners of the residential houses which he said will be the site of the temporary offices of the LGU affected by the renovation of the municipal building.

“It is my honest understanding that the lease agreements executed earlier by the undersigned without authority from the SB are not binding and therefore not effective and has no force and effect of the law,” the chief executive admitted.

Robles has yet to submit his answer to the complaint as he has been given 15 days from receipt of the summons from the SP.

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