The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has affirmed the 2021 decision of the Sangguniang Bayan of Virac suspending Cavinitan Punong Barangay Matthea Tablizo-Bautista for three months without honoraria.
The provincial board’s ruling on her petition for review in Administrative Case No. 2021-002 was submitted by PBM Dean Roberto T. Vergara, chairman of the Committee on Justice, last August 8, 2022 but it was only signed by Vice Governor Peter C. Cua and the rest of the board only recently.
It may be recalled that on Dec. 14, 2021, the Virac municipal council found PB Bautista guilty of Simple Misconduct, Abuse of Authority and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and unanimously penalized her with three months suspension without honoraria.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by one Kristine Curie Tanaka, who claimed that she was robbed of P26,200.00 and an Ipad while she was a boarder of Belen Terrazola in Cavinitan.
Terrazola, whose boarding house had a CCTV, reportedly could not produce footage on the day of the incident despite the fact that there were recordings on previous days.
Summoned to appear before the barangay chairman on June 11, 2021, Terrazola alleged that she was not given an opportunity to refute the allegations.
PB Bautista allegedly uttered insulting, offensive and debasing words against her by saying, “Tiya, magnanakaw ka! Boda so aki mong si Joseph magnanakaw man! Kasohan moa ko! Kamo nin aki mo!”
Afterwards, the village chief turned to barangay kagawad Gil Alintana, saying, “Bakong iyo, kagawad?” and the latter answered back, “Iyo.”
In her complaint before the municipal council, Terrazola stated that Bautista’s utterances is an imputation of the commission of crime that demeaned and degraded her person and integrity.
Bautista, on the other hand, denied the allegations for being devoid of factual basis.
In filing the petition before the SP, the punong barangay claimed that the SB erred in its ruling as there is no direct evidence of simple misconduct, the taking of the robbery case is not characterized as grave abuse of authority, and the integrity of barangay documents was never raised as an issue or alleged in the complaint.
The provincial board, however, disagreed with PB Bautista, noting that she was not found administratively liable for simple misconduct on the basis of her offensive utterances against Terrazola.
In fact, the Sangguniang Bayan considered Terrazola’s imputation against the village chief as hearsay.
On the contrary, she was made liable for simple misconduct for failure to perform all the acts expected of her as Punong Barangay and as Lupon Chairman in dispensing cases brought before her, the SP stressed.
The board, however, found that Bautista is not guilty of abuse of authority as she was never in a hostile manner in acting in her authority as Punong Barangay or as Lupon Chairman.
It likewise disagreed with the Virac SB’s finding her guilty of Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, as PB Bautista is not the custodian of barangay documents but the barangay secretary.
“Nothing in the questioned acts could have tarnished the image and integrity of public office in the light of the fact that the acts complained of were not in violation of any law or established rule,” the provincial board emphasized.