IT’S OFFICIAL. Jose Espinosa III is the new mayor of Iloilo City.
Espinosa assumed the top City Hall post after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) served the dismissal order meted by the Office of the Ombudsman on former Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog at the Office of the City Mayor 12:35 p.m. of Oct. 30, 2017.
Mabilog’s legal counsel Joenar Pueblo along with his spokesperson Mark Piad received the order from DILG-6 Regional Director Anthony Nuyda in the presence of DILG-Iloilo City director Ferdinand Panes.
DILG-6 regional legal officer Cedric Jaranilla read the Ombudsman decision in the presence of Mabilog’s aides, appointees and executive assistants, including City Administrator Hernando Galvez, Public Safety and Traffic Management Office (PSTMO) head Jeck Conlu, Executive Assistant Lyndon Acap, among others.
While Mabilog did not receive the order in person, Nuyda said Pueblo’s receipt is considered proof of service.
“He (Pueblo) is the counsel on record, and based on the rules of court, if the person is not personally present to receive the order, it would be the legal counsel that should receive the order; or it must be serve in his office,” Nuyda said.
“We implemented it now, we will give the order also to the vice mayor for him to assume office, and take his oath as the new mayor of Iloilo City.”
With Mabilog’s camp seeking all legal remedies available, Nuyda said: “Very very clear ang rules ng Ombudsman, and also there is a decision in the Supreme Court that says ‘any appeal or motion for reconsideration will not affect the execution (of the decision). So, it is executory pending appeal.”
Right after the DILG gave Espinosa the order to assume Mabilog’s post, he immediately took his oath as mayor before Liga ng mga Barangay president and ex-officio Councilor Reyland Hervias.
Also present in the oath taking are Councilors Eduardo Peñaredondo, Ely Estante, Liezl Joy Zulueta-Salazar, Mandrei Malabor, Jay Treñas, and City Administrator Galvez.
Councilor Jeffrey Ganzon also took his oath as vice mayor on the same day.
Mabilog’s dismissal is based on the Ombudsman decision in OMB-V-A-14-0460 for Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct which was filed by former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada sometime in September 2014.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
Espinosa assured that “it is business as usual in the City Hall”.
“Whatever good things Mayor Jed started, we will continue. If there are new things to be done, we will do it. What’s important is we serve the people well,” Espinosa said.
The new mayor, who assumed as acting mayor for almost two months since September, said he wants to ensure the peace and order and continued progress of the city.
“Wala man sang bag-o kita nga ibutang other than kinalanglan ang aton pumuluyo maka-tulog sa ila balay sang maayo, makalibot sila sa aton syudad nga wala sang kahadlok sa criminal activities, kag maging progresibo pa ang aton syudad,” Espinosa said.
Espinosa stressed that he just followed the DILG rule on succession.
“We follow the rules of law on succession. And as I tell the public and the city hall employees, it is business as usual,” Espinosa stressed.
For Mabilog’s younger brother and executive assistant Jay Victor (JV), the dismissal is “bad news” for their family.
“Ang natabo sa subong nga adlaw, sa family namon, indi na siya maayo nga balita,” JV said.
The Mabilogs, he said, are hopeful that the transition will unburden his beleaguered brother.
“Since the transition took place this morning, at least it will lessen the burden on the mayor and to the family,” JV said.
With Espinosa as an ally of the Mabilogs in politics, JV opined that both families wanted the best for the city.
“We will continue the service and at the same time, we will support the leadership of Mayor Joe,” JV said.
HOPE FOR JED
Pueblo is thankful that the transition was peaceful but he is also saddened that his client cannot immediately seek legal remedies from the Court of Appeals because of the special non-working holiday in Metro Manila.
Pueblo said he is hopeful that with Mabilog stripped of his former office, those who are after him will now give him “peace”.
“Wala man ga-cling sa power si Jed. Hopefully, they’ve taken their pound of flesh already, nga indi na nila sya pag-hingaboton para maka peace of mind man ang aton mayor… indi nga kada hambal ginapakalain siya,” Pueblo said.
Pueblo stressed that Mabilog is not guilty of the accusations of unexplained wealth.
“Gapati kami nga ang alegasyon sa iya, indi matuod, and he will be vindicated in the long run. For us Ilonggos, we all know that Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog has sacrificed a lot for the city of Iloilo,” Pueblo said.
Pueblo is set to file the petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals to contest the authority of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang in signing the decision.
“These are bases of grave abuse of discretion. We will protect all his (Mabilog) rights, with all the legal remedies available,” Pueblo stressed, reiterating his confidence in the independence of the judicial process and that the judiciary will not be affected by anyone, particularly those whom they believe are after the former mayor.
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