By Mortz C. Ortigoza
BINMALEY - Many incumbent and former councillors of the Sangguniang Bayan here are feared to be apprehended by the police after the Ombudsman denied their motion of reconsideration (MR) on a criminal charged filed by Vice Mayor Pedro Merrera.
UNDER SIEGE. The under siege members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Binmaley, Pangasinan where many of its incumbent and former members are feared to be arrested by the police after the Ombudsman denied their motion for reconsideration of the criminal charge filed by their Vice Mayor Pedro Merrera.
The arrest scenario could happen after the Ombudsman filed a resolution in court for the warrant of arrest of the eight active and former councillors who were sued with Usurpation of Authority or Official Function by Vice Mayor Merrera.
Merrera charged in September 21, 2012 Councillors Ellen F. Alipio, Jose Z. Carrera,Jr,. Urbano C. delos Angeles III, Jocelyn V. Bautista, Franco C. Francisco, Vismark V. Valerio, Jesus A. Aquino, and Harmielyn C. Cerezo .
The Ombudsman on its March 20 this year Order said the MR of Councillor Francisco Franco, a lawyer, been a rehash of its previous counter affidavit to Merrera’s complaint.
Usurpation of Authority or Official Function, according to the Revised Penal Code, has a penalty of prision correctional in its minimum and medium periods.
The controversy in this town ensued when Vice Mayor Pedro Merrera question the propriety of some members of the Council to continue the special session that he adjourned after it was requested to him by Councillors Jovito Castro and Edgar Mamenta.
It can be recalled that the respondents’ members of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) wanted to comply the request of the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that aside from Resolution No.5, Series of 2012, a Municipal Ordinance should likewise be passed to make the P55 million loan applied at the Land Bank of the Philippines by the administration of former Mayor Lorenzo Cerezo valid.
“Pursuant thereto, the SB passed Municipal Ordinance No. 01, Series of 2012. Subsequently, the SB enacted Municipal Ordinance No. 02, Series of 2012 amending said Municipal Ordinance 01, Series of 2012, which in effect amended the list of the municipal projects and granting the Office of the Mayor anew 90-day period within which to submit the required documents,” quoted by the November 14, 2014 Resolution of the Ombudsman in Manila.
On August 18, 2012, in connection to the letter-request of the municipal mayor addressed to the vice mayor and respondents, a special session was held to deliberate Resolution No. 59, Series of 2012. During the deliberation, the documents required under Municipal Ordinance No. 02, Series of 2012 were submitted by the Office of the Mayor to the SB.
Vice Mayor Merrera, however, without relinquishing his chair as Presiding Officer, questioned the completeness of the documents submitted by the office of the mayor, and suddenly adjourned the session. Thinking that the required documents submitted by the office of the mayor were complete and Vice Mayor Merrera was considered to have walked out from the session, respondents decided to push through with the disrupted session. They emphasize that the act of Merrera in actively participating in the deliberation, without relinquishing his post as Presiding Officer, was improper because his duties are to preside the proceedings, and to vote only in case of tie, according to the Ombudsman report.
Francisco argued that during the deliberation, Councillor Castro moved for the suspension of the journal proceedings, which was immediately seconded by Councillor Mamenta. However, before the vice mayor could rule on the said motion, another SB member objected to the suspension of the Journal Proceedings, followed by several SB Members. At one point, one SB Member moved for the division of the house to determine whether the Office of the Mayor had already complied with the requirement but Merrera denied the motion and immediately adjourned the session.
After the vice mayor and his two putative allies left the session hall, the body nominated Alipio as temporary presiding officer.
The issue posed by the Ombudsman on its order was whether respondents may be indicted for the crime of Usurpation of Authority or Official Functions when respondent Alipio, in connivance and conspiracy with other respondents, acted as the temporary presiding officer and resumed the special session held on August 18, 2012, and later, passed and approved Resolution No. 59, Series of 2012, despite the fact that said session had already been formally adjourned by the complainant.
“This Office answers in the affirmative,” the Ombudsman resolved on its March 20, 2015 Order.
Ombudsman explained that record reveals that the special session held on August 18, 2012 had already been formally adjourned by complainant, after SB Member Castro moved for the suspension of the journal proceedings and set the session in the next regular session, which was duly seconded by SB Member Mamenta.
“Although SB Member Castro moved only for the suspension of the journal proceedings, it is very clear that he also moved for the resetting of the proceedings in the next regular session. What is important is not the term used by SB Member Castro but his intent to move for the adjournment of the session and to reset the same in the next regular session” The Order said.