Suspension of mayor and councilor met by protest

>> Wednesday, November 30, 2016

By Freddie G. Lazaro

 TAGUDIN, Ilocos Sur — The serving of the 60-day preventive suspension against Mayor Roque Versoza Jr. and Councilor Arthur Chua here was welcomed by a protest rally of their supporters in front of the municipal hall here Wednesday.
Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis V. Singson has approved the 60-day preventive suspension order upon recommendation of members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan through Resolution No. 16 Series of 2016 to give way for impartial investigation of the complaint.
The decision to implement a suspension order against Verzosa Jr. o Chua now depends on the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Singson said the provincial government served the order on Verzosa and Chua on Wednesday.
The preventive suspension order of the two town officials stemmed from the administrative complaint filed by Noreen Sibayan, Gemma Tiu, Joel Pastores, permitting officer, and Reymund Sinay, the Ilocos Sur’s Environment and Natural Resources Officer to the Provincial Board.
The complaint cited grave misconduct, gross insubordination, abuse of authority and conduct unbecoming of public officials of Mayor Versoza and Councilor Chua on July 1, 2016, after the respondents refused to honor the legality of quarrying permits issued by the provincial government and DENR to commercial sand and gravel permit holders.
 Noreen Sibayan, Gemma Tiu, Joel Pastores and Provincial Environment Officer Raymund Sinay sought the officials’ suspension before the provincial board saying they believed the town mayor and SB member committed grave misconduct, gross insubordination, abuse of authority and conduct unbecoming of public officials.
               After the complaint was filed against the two, the Sangguniang Bayan of Tagudin issued a resolution directing immediate halt to quarry operations along rivers in the town.
However, the provincial board turned down the resolution, seeing it as a move to get back at the complainants.
               With a vote of 12-0, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved Resolution No. XVI Series of 2016 in July endorsing the suspension of the two, saying “there is a great probability that the continuance in office of the respondents could influence any witnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other evidence, hence it merits suspension.”
Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson ordered Mayor Verzosa and SB member Chua’s suspension Wednesday after receiving the recommendation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
“Under the Local Government Code, it is the province that has the authority to cancel or revoke the quarry permits that have been legally issued and not the municipal mayor,” Singson said.
He added Mayor Verzosa clearly abused his power by stopping quarry operations.

“It seems that they are bullying the provincial government, so we have to act on this in a legal forum to remind Mayor Verzosa the scope of his powers as local chief executive.”


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