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Mayor May Face Contempt Charges

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Mayor May Face Contempt Charges
« on: September 14, 2008, 10:36:51 PM »
By Rey Anthony Chiu

  The Civil Service Commission (CSC) recently ruled that its decision reinstating a Cortes engineering aide has already attained finality and so it ordered the town mayor to implement or face contempt.

  The CSC, proving itself as the protector of civil servants against whimsical political persecution  reaffirmed its early decision in favor of Joseph Ligan III, whom Mayor Apolinaria Balistoy has accused of not supporting her in the past elections and whom she reassigned to do garden work.

  In a decision penned September 1, 2008, the government civil servant protection commission has given the Cortes town mayor five days to implement its earlier order to reinstate.

  Failure to do would mean the CSC commences contempt proceedings.

  Against Mayor Balistoy, the CSC cited section 72, Rule 5 of the Uniform Rules of Administrative Proceedings in the Civil Service where an appeal to a CSC decision should be made within 15 days.

  Instead of an official appeal, Balistoy wrote to the CSC reiterating her position that Ligan’s assignment to the Municipal Nursery shall be maintained pending the approval by the provincial legislative body of the town’s annual budget.

  The CSC, in a decision dated June 17 directed Mayor Balistoy to reinstate Ligan to the payroll of the Municipality and to pay for his backwages and benefits.

  The CSC decided for Ligan in  a case stemming from the two office memoranda by Balistoy to Ligan and to the Cortes Municipal Treasurer.

  The first Balistoy memorandum to Ligan directed him to report to the Municipal Nursery, about 5 kilometers from the town hall, which the employee was forced to accept with a heavy heart, according to case statement of facts.

  Not content with that, Mayor Balistoy issued another memorandum to the town treasurer seven months later directing the town disbursing officer to withhold Ligan’s salaries and benefits.

  Pushed with no other recourse, Ligan filed a certiorari and temporary restraining order for which the Regional Trial Court Branch 2 issued a status quo order for Ligan. Meanwhile, for the undue prejudice the employee has had, he also elevated a criminal case against the Mayor to the Office of the Ombudsman.

  Invoking forum shopping by citing three cases filed against her, Mayor Balistoy succeeded in getting a dismissal for Ligan’s certiorari from the trial court.

  Ligan’s counsel and Public Attorney Reynald Benjamin Chiu argued that there was no forum shopping as it was a separate administrative case Ligan filed against Balistoy at the CSC while a later special civil action for certiorari and TRO and a criminal case was filed at the regional court.

  After the dismissal of the certiorari and the TRO, only two cases remain, and the pending Ombudsman case could not be considered for purposes of determining forum shopping, Atty. Chiu stated in his Comment to the CSC.

  “…the power of the Ombudsman is investigative in character and its resolution can not constitute valid and final judgment because its duty is to file the appropriate case before the SandiganBayan, Atty. Chiu cited Sevilleja vs. Laggui (326  SCRA 715).

  Ligan had not received his salaries since June of this year, or after Mayor Balistoy reported back to work from a trip abroad.

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