CA junks Ombudsman's preventive suspension order vs. Nueva Ecija town mayor

October 6, 2011 10:34 pm 

MANILA, Oct. 6 — The Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed the 60-day preventive suspension the Office of the Ombudsman imposed against a Nueva Ecija town mayor.

In a 14-page ruling promulgated on Sept. 29, 2011 and penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda, the CA's Sixth Division annulled and set aside the Ombudsman's Nov. 23, 2010 order recommending San Isidro, Nueva Ecija Mayor Cesario Lopez Jr.'s preventive suspension during the pendency of his civil case for alleged violation of the Civil Service rules and regulations.

The CA decision said that the order of the Ombudsman was not immediately implementable.

"Had the public respondent (Ombudsman) been more circumspect and vigilant in assessing the complaint-affidavit submitted before it, it would have known that they had loopholes which have elicited a nagging doubt as to the veracity and completeness of the allegations and of the records filed before it," the CA resolution said.

"We find that the public respondent (Ombudsman) committed grave abuse of discretion," the CA said.

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Amelita Tolentino and Normandie Pizarro.

The suspension order arose from the complaint for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the service filed against Lopez.

The case against Lopez was filed by former municipal assessor Elmer Garcia, of Barangay Malapit, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija.

Garcia claimed that Lopez dismissed him from office less than a month after the mayor assumed his position.

He alleged that Lopez also ordered the municipal treasurer, municipal accountant and human resource management officers to hold his salaries and benefits, and his name be stricken out from the payroll.

In his amended petition before the CA, Lopez said that the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion in ruling that there exists strong evidence to warrant the issuance of a preventive suspension based only on the evidence presented by Garcia. (PNA)

DCT/scs/PTR/utb

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