Ombudsman suspends 2 Leyte town execs for neglect of duty

MANILA The Office of the Ombudsman has found Santa Fe, Leyte Mayor Oscar Monteza and Human Resource Officer Videl Apurillo guilty of simple neglect of duty for ignoring the requests of documents regarding an investigation into the illegal use of municipality's ambulance.

The Ombudsman ordered Monteza and Apurillo suspended without pay for one month and one day.

The complaint filed by the Ombudsman's Field Investigation Office (FIO) showed that in 2014, it was conducting a fact-finding probe on the illegal use of the municipality's ambulance (SKA-337) following its apprehension wherein driver Lito Torre could not provide any trip ticket to the unregistered vehicle.

In the course of its probe, the FIO issued four subpoenas duces tecum received by Apurillo on May 6, 2015.

Despite receipt of the subpoenas, no compliance was submitted to the FIO.

On Jan. 8, 2016, the FIO sent a letter to Monteza informing him of the non-compliance with the subpoenas issued to the officers of his municipality.

On March 10, 2016, the FIO reiterated to Monteza its request for the production of documents.

Failing to obtain any reply from Monteza, a tracer was issued to him on Aug. 18, 2016.

All requests remained unacted upon.

Monteza argued that he overlooked the FIO directive as he was hospitalized at that time due to heart ailment, while Apurillo said that the documents were destroyed during typhoon Yolanda.

In its decision approved on March 7, 2018, the Ombudsman ruled that under Section 26(4) of Republic Act No. 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, any delay or refusal to comply with the referral or directive of the Ombudsman or by any of the Deputies shall constitute a ground for administrative disciplinary action against the officer or employee to whom it was addressed.

The non-compliance of the directive contained in the March 10, 2016 letter and the August 18, 2016 first tracer are sufficient grounds for administrative disciplinary action against respondent Monteza. He admitted that he had overlooked the directive of the FIO in its March 10, 2016 letter as he was hospitalized during that time. Notably, he failed to substantiate his claim that he was sick as he did not show any medical certificate or any proof that he was indeed hospitalized, the Ombudsman said.

The anti-graft body also found Apurillo's excuse as too flimsy and not sufficient to exonerate him from liability under RA No. 6770.

The Ombudsman ordered the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government to implement the decision.

Source: Philippine News Agency