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Vice mayor wants mayor, 11 others suspended

BALER, Aurora—The vice mayor of this town has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to suspend the mayor, nine councilors and two municipal executives to prevent them from using the powers of their office to influence the investigation of criminal and administrative charges against them.

Vice Mayor Karen Angara-Ularan sought the issuance of a preventive suspension order against Mayor Nelianto Bihasa, Councilors Pedro Valenzuela, Danilo M. Ong, Gina T. Ritual, Reynaldo E. Mapindan, Gina Z. Agapito, Ramir D. Duaso, Meinrado C. Tropicales, Noel P. Go and Felipe M. Friginal, municipal human resource officer Curie S. Bernardino and municipal budget officer Francisco Reopta.

Angara-Ularan had filed a complaint-affidavit against the 12 before the Office of the Ombudsman for Luzon for malversation of public funds among other offenses for allegedly misappropriating funds belonging to the Sangguniang Bayan and diverting them to pay the salaries of job order employees.

She accused them of being criminally liable for malversation and fraud and administratively liable for dishonesty, neglect of duty, gross misconduct, inefficiency, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and incompetence for violations of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, RA 6713 or the Code of Ethical Conduct for Public Officials and Employees, RA 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act, the Civil Service Law and the Revised Penal Code.

“It is most respectfully prayed that preventive suspension be imposed against the respondents so as not to unduly influence witnesses and tamper documentary evidence,” Angara-Ularan wrote in her complaint to the Ombudsman.

The charges stemmed from Bihasa’s having allegedly taken money from the funds of the SB of which Angara-Ularan is the presiding officer, allegedly in collusion with the councilors and the two town officials.

She claimed that Bihasa declared them as savings and used them to pay the wages of Jos.

In her complaint, Angara-Ularan said that prior to the taking of the funds, Bihasa wrote the SB on Oct. 15, 2014 seeking approval of a supplemental budget to augment the funds of the municipal government and pay the Jos.

In the course of the deliberations, Angara-Ularan objected since it would involve taking of the SB funds without consulting her as administrative head of the SB.

Due to her objections, Bihasa did not sign the ordinance and vetoed it which the SB members did not override, and agreed to stay the veto. However, the councilors voted to remove Angara-Ularan’s objections.

The vice mayor said that the veto having been stayed, there was no approved ordinance.

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