By Mortz C. Ortigoza
URBIZTONDO – Malacanang Palace for the second time repudiated the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) of Pangasinan when it meted the 60 days preventive suspension against this town’s controversial mayor.
In a stayed order dated May 12 and penned by Michael Aguinaldo, Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, it prevented the Committee on Good Government and Accountability where in a 10-man votes temporarily suspended in March 24, 2014 Mayor Ernesto V. Balolong.
Aguinaldo explained that “Pursuant to Section 9 of Administrative Order No. 22 dated 11 October 2011, Committee Report No. 12-2014 dated 24 March 2014 is hereby stayed pending resolution of the appeal (of Balolong) to the office of the president (O.P).
It can be recalled that Balolong was charged with grave misconduct in office, abuse of authority, dereliction of duty, and violation of the Local Government Code of 1991 and related laws on an administrative case filled by this town's former treasurer Loida Cancino on November 22, 2013 at the board.
Aguinaldo ordered Balolong to pay P1, 500 as appeal fee to the office of the president (O.P) and to show proof that his appeal was filed on time.
The order asked also the board and Cancino to comment by pointing out the (a) insufficiencies or inaccuracies in (Balolong) appellant’s statement of facts, and (b) reasons why the appeal should be discussed. Copies of their comments shall be served on the appellant with proof of service submit (sic) to this office”.
Administrative Order No. 22 from Malacanang that rejected the first temporary suspension has been raised by the camp of Balolong against the complainants that he could not be preventively suspend for the second time as anchored on the disputed loan of P52.4 million he negotiated with the Philippine National Bank in 2012. But Vice Mayor Martin Raul S. Sison, who acted as mayor here after the March 24 suspension and the provincial board, would not honor it until the order from Aguinaldo was sent to them.
By virtue of the stay order, Vice Mayor Sison issued a memorandum dated May 13 informing all department heads of the municipality that he is returning to his vice mayor’s post.
“I am humbled enough to renew unity in our town and extend my support to Mayor Ernesto V. Balolong, just for the purpose of public interest”.
In his memorandum to all officials and employees of the town hall, Balolong said that he is still the mayor even during the short stints of Sison as acting mayor.
According to a source who asked anonymity Sison would be sued by Balolong with usurpation of authority or official functions because of his insistence to be an acting mayor despite the stayed order embodied in Administrative Order No. 22 that prevent the board to suspend him.
The first stayed order meted a preventive suspension of 60 days to Balolong but the O.P lifted it only a few weeks after the latter filed an urgent petition to set aside the order.
In that first suspension he was blamed for his insistence to represent the town to borrow P52.4 million loans at PNB in Dagupan City.
The board argued that Balolong lacked a provincial resolution to back up this town’s resolution to borrow the sum.
But Balolong’s lawyers argued that the board has been in estoppels on their duty to back up the town’s resolution by citing Section 56 (d) of the Local Government Code of 1991.
The law says “that if no action has been taken by the Sangguniang Panlalalwigan within thirty (30) days after its submission of such an ordinance or resolution, the same shall be presumed consistent with law and therefore valid,.
The second stayed order not to order a preventive suspension to the mayor was the May 2014 orders of Aguinaldo.
The SP’s ground for the second suspension was when the mayor approved the payment of P8,441,33.59 to PNB in August 2013 despite the rejection of the SP of the ordinance of this town’s 2013 budget appropriating an amortization of the sum to the bank.