The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) seeks to promote a high standard of ethics in public service as the primary arm of the State that exercises general supervision over local governments. In doing so, the Department has consistently implemented orders from the Ombudsman in the latter’s exercise of disciplinary authority over all elective and appointive officials of the Government including those in the local governments.
The Department, through its Regional Office VIII, has ordered San Sebastian Vice Mayor Eleuterio Mabao to assume as acting mayor to replace ex-mayor Arnold Abalos who was ordered dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Abalos was meted with a dismissal order with an accessory penalty not to hold any public or elective post by the Ombudsman in its 2013 decision after being found guilty of not remitting over P7-million of the municipal employees’ contributions to the GSIS.
With an already abandoned Condonation doctrine and pursuant to the executory nature of Ombudsman decisions in conjunction with the 01 July 2019 and 05 August 2019 Memoranda of the Department, local elective officials shall continuously serve the imposed penalty of dismissal or suspension despite their re-election in the May 2019 elections. This leaves the Department the ministerial duty and mandate to implement Abalos’ removal and to recognize the vice mayor as the local chief executive of San Sebastian.
Abalos, however, filed a Petition for Quo Warranto with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and TRO against Mabao. On 07 October 2019, the RTC Branch 27 of Catbalogan City, Samar suddenly issued a Writ of Preliminary Injunction (WPI) enjoining Mabao from continuing to act as Acting Municipal Mayor and ordering Abalos to continue discharging as the Municipal Mayor.
To resolve the issue and to prevent hiatus in the governance of San Sebastian, the Department will defer compliance with the WPI issued by the RTC on the following grounds:
First, the Department is not a party to the Petition for Quo Warranto. A Petition for Quo Warranto is an action which binds only the parties to the case, the Department not being privy thereto is not bound by the RTC Order.
Secondarily, considering that Mayor Abalos’ dismissal emanated from the Office of the Ombudsman, prudence dictates that the Department seek guidance first from that Office in light of the RTC decision.
Because of the foregoing developments and due to the existing impediments of Mayor Abalos (following the 01 July 2019 and 05 August 2019 Memoranda of the Department) and Vice Mayor Mabao (RTC Order enjoining him from continuing to act as Acting Mayor), the Department is constrained to follow the law on succession and recognize the ranking councilor as the acting mayor of San Sebastian, Samar.