Suspended Norzagaray Mayor

THIS one could serve as lesson to other government officials particularly those in the elective posts who have the penchant for abusing their authority over their subordinates who fail to satisfy their whims and caprices.

Mayor Feliciano “Fel” Legaspi of Norzagaray, Bulacan, has the taste of the anti-graft agency’s drive against oppressive and abusive public officials after he was found to have administratively erred when he demoted the municipal budget officer to market administrator in May this year.

As a result, he will have to, whether he likes it or not, leave his office for the next six months as ordered by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales in connection with the complaint filed by “demoted” Budget Officer Yolanda Ervas against the mayor.

In her complaint, Ms. Ervas, who is said to be mayor’s relative, claims that her reassignment was an act of oppression and grave abuse of authority since her level of education and qualifications did not match the new position and it involved diminution of rank and salary equivalent to constructive dismissal.

Ahead  of  her reassignment, she wrote a letter dated May 17, 2011 addressed to Mayor Legaspi informing him of her observations regarding the overspending and realignment of funds done by certain offices prior to the approval by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the 2011 annual budget of the municipal government.

Two days later, she received an order issued by the mayor reassigning her to the public market “in the exigency of the service and in the interest of public trust.”

In the same mayor’s order, the complainant was directed, among others, to manage the operation of the public market and supervise market cleaners.

She claimed that her previous position has a Salary Grade of 24, Step 6 while the new position has a Salary Grade of 18, Step 2 or from P50, 000 to just P30,000 monthly.

Further, she said that Mrs. Pacita Espiritu, her replacement as Municipal Budget Officer, was previously an Administrative Assistant with a Salary Grade of 10, Step 2 and only finished a two-year Secretarial Course.

The Ombudsman says that the “complainant’s reassignment from Municipal Budget Officer to administrator of the Norzagaray Public Market is tainted with malice and bad faith, in view of the disparity in the status, qualifications and functions between the two positions.”

Carpio-Morales rules that “such reassignment, to be valid, must not involve a reduction in rank, status or salary in line with the mandate of Executive Order No. 292,  otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987…”

It provides that “an employee may be reassigned from one organizational unit to another in the same agency; provided, that such reassignment shall not involve a reduction in rank, status or salaries.”

Here’s his dilemma. His reelection bid would certainly be compromised since he’ll not be at the helm and with that he can’t enjoy the resources of the municipal coffers as most in the same posts do.

Call it a blessing in disguise for the Norzagaray people. Try a new face to replace him come 2013 polls.

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