Village chiefs warned: Stay away from partisan politics

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

LOCAL Government Northern Mindanao Director Rene Burdeos warned barangay officials to stay away from partisan politics, in the wake of political tension building up at Cagayan de Oro City Hall.

“They are supposed to be non-partisan in political matters,” Burdeos said of Cagayan de Oro’s barangay captains numbering to over 100 who brought along their respective constituents in camping out at City Hall as a show of support to Mayor Vicente Emano, who is allegedly facing a suspension order.

Barangay employees were also seen with the mass of Emano supporters at the City Hall’s premises since Monday morning in anticipating the suspension order from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) of which Burdeos himself has no idea about.


“We have not received any information about the suspension order. And if the barangay employees’ presence for days at City Hall may result to neglect of their duties and responsibilities, then they can be charged administratively,” Burdeos said.

The absence of barangay chairmen and councilors in their respective areas of responsibility to participate in a political fight without legal basis can be considered as a neglect of duty, he added.

He said if they used barangay resources, “they’re also equally accountable to that.”

Burdeos dismissed the circulated rumors that DILG Secretary Mar Roxas was in town to personally serve the suspension order to Emano.

“If there will be any, the Malacañang Palace will be the one to issue the suspension order. And to what possible charges the suspension order may emanate I still have no idea,” he said.

The said order would reportedly stem from one of the many graft cases filed against Emano in the Office of the Ombudsman.

Lawyer James Judith, for his part, expressed his take on the “suspension noise,” saying it is one of Emano’s biggest play or drama.

In a social media post, Judith said the suspension noise orchestrated by Emano stemmed from a copy of a motion filed by his legal counsel last week and imagined something could happen to him -- the suspension.

“I could now connect the dots. Last week, I received a copy of an Ad Cautelam (to proceed with caution and without prejudice to the filing of whatever pleading even if the case is already submitted for resolution) Motion filed by him through his counsel,” Judith in his post said, adding that “the implication thereof could be that he sensed something was coming or imagined it to be.”

Judith said Emano already announced in his radio program over the weekend that he is going to be suspended.

“By Monday, he then summoned barangay officials and employees to City Hall and mass outside where they become the unwitting bit players in Emano’s biggest play or ‘drama’ yet ever entitled: Suspend Me...Mr. President!” Judith added.

Omar Labuntog, chief of Barangay Lapasan, said the “suspension” is clearly a plain and simple political harassment.

A known Emano’s political ally, Labuntog -- who is also the chair of Cluster 3 (composed of 20 barangays from Lapasan to Bugo and some urban barangays) -- said “what they are doing is an old method of defeating their opponent.”

Labuntog added: “Let the people decide since it is almost election time. Let’s just wait for the decision of the people.”

Some of the barangay heads, however, decided to do their usual chores. However, barangay chair Jocelyn Rodriguez said she received notice on Monday informing them to go to the mayor’s office lobby.

“I haven’t been to the City Hall. I’m just working and doing business as usual in my barangay,” said barangay chair Jocelyn Rodriguez.

Ralph Abragan, chairman of Save CDO Now Movement who also filed charges for dereliction of duty during the wrath of Tropical Storm Sendong in the city, said Emano should yield to the order if there is any.

In a TV interview, Abragan called the commotion as one of Emano’s tricks.

Nixon Baban, chairman of environmental group Bangon Kagay-an, also said the so-called suspension noise is only a loyalty check.

“There is no suspension to talk about in the first place. It was just a loyalty check to see who among the barangay chairmen will stand to support him in case he gets suspended,” Baban said. (Abigail Chee Kee Malalis)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 09, 2013.

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