By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.
SORSOGON CITY, 7July2016 (BicolToday.com) – For simple neglect of duty and for violation of RA 6713, board member Marnellie Robles of Sorsogon second district was meted with 6 months suspension without pay by the Ombudsman. The Order was transmitted to the Office of the Vice-Governor by the provincial director of the Interior and Local Government causing the implementation of the suspension order.
The serving of the suspension order was made July 4, 2016, the first regular session day of the Provincial Board where Board Member Robles was in attendance which will be her last for the rest of the year, and the earliest to re-assume her duties is January 2017 without further order.
Robles was complained of her official act as town mayor of Bulan from 2013-2016 by former mayor Guillermo De Castro Jr.
The suspension order was referred to the Secretary of the Interior Department for implementation to comply COMELEC Resolution No. 30-2015. On May 24, 2016, SILG requested exemption from the ban of suspension from the COMELEC, but the response on the matter is yet to be received by SILG. The election period ended June 8, 2016, erasing the legal impediment in the implementation of the Order to suspend, without pay for six months, Marnellie Robles.
As early as August 2015, the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon issued a decision in OMB-L-A-15-0139 entitled “Guillermo C. De Castro, Jr. versus Marnellie B. Robles”.
The complainant said that his application for terminal leave payments and other retirement benefits were sat out by Robles, then mayor of Bulan town, in spite of numerous demands and funds for retirement for employees of the town were covered by the annual performance budget for 2013 and 2014. The application of De Castro has been pending with the office of Robles for almost two years, contrary to the provisions of Section 5(a) and (c) of RA 6713.
De Castro said that allies of Robles were given their retirement benefits while he, a political opponent, was deliberately left out unjustly. It was intentional on her part refusing to facilitate and approve the early release of my terminal leave benefits within the period prescribed, in spite of compliance of all of the requirements, yet failed to act on his applications and ignored his letters.
Robles said that De Castro failed to comply CSC requirements and the complaint was motivated by ill- will because they are political opponents, the ombudsman said, it is not justifiable. The former mayor argument was an alibi to justify the delayed payment of terminal leave benefits. It should be stressed that alibi and denial, if not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence are negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law, added the Ombudsman.
It added, respondent Robles allegation of delayed filing is not correct as CSC Memo Circular No. 41 state that “request for payments of terminal leave benefits must be brought “within ten(10) years from the time the right of actions accrues upon an obligation created by law”.
RA 6713, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees gives public officials and employees fifteen working days to act upon receipt thereof, respond to letters and other means of communications sent by the public containing the action taken.
Section 5(c) of the Act calls for the processing of documents and papers expeditiously, that all official papers and documents must be processed and completed within a reasonable time from the preparation thereof and must contain, as far as practicable, not more than three signatories therein. In the absence of duly authorized signatories, the official next-in-rank or officer in-charge shall sign for, and in their behalf.
The Ombudsman further said that respondent Robles failed to observe RA 10154, a state policy which ensures the timely and expeditious release of retirement benefits of all retiring employees of the government, it includes terminal leave benefits.
With substantial evidence, the Order said that respondent Robles violated Section 5(a and (c) of RA 6713 and the penalty of six(6) months suspension without pay was imposed on respondent pursuant to CSC Revised Rules on Administrative Cases(RRACCS).
All other charges against respondent Marnellie Robles were dismissed for insufficiency of evidence. Graft investigation and prosecution officer Ma. Czarina Castro-Altares recommendation was reviewed by Margie Fernandez-Calpatura, Head of Zero Backlog Unit, Evaluation and Investigation Office approved by Conchita Carpio-Morales, Ombudsman. [BicolToday.com]