THE SUPREME Court (SC) has upheld the Ombudsman’s guilty verdict on a former mayor of Panglao, Bohol for grave misconduct and negligence over a violation of the election appointment ban in 2013.
In a 15-page decision dated July 27 and made public on Oct. 20, the SC Second Division said the Ombudsman correctly ruled that ex-Panglao mayor Leonila P. Montero acted in partiality and in bad faith when she appointed four consultants, who just lost as candidates in a recent election.
“The Office of the Ombudsman noted that the mayor failed to ensure that the four consultants possessed all the qualifications before hiring them,” SC Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F Leonen said in the ruling.
“To make the appointments regular Montero allegedly conspired with her husband and daughter, who were members of the municipal council of Panglao, to facilitate the passage of four resolutions,” he added.
In 2018, the Ombudsman ordered Ms. Montero’s dismissal after she was found guilty of grave misconduct, a ground for being barred from holding public office. It then filed the case with the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
Meanwhile, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan found the former mayor guilty of illegally appointing the four consultants.
Ms. Montero was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years of jail time and a fine of P1.3 million to be paid to the municipality, covering the salaries released to the appointees, Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Karl B. Miranda said in a 49-page ruling dated Oct. 26.
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division said government prosecutors sufficiently proved she violated Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code, which says public officials are prohibited from knowingly appointing individuals who lack legal qualifications.
Ms. Montero did not immediately reply to a Facebook Messenger chat seeking comment.
The anti-graft court also upheld a hold departure order against the former mayor.
“Without a doubt, her act of resorting to hiring the four losing candidates on a job order basis to circumvent the prohibition under the Constitution has caused undue injury to the Municipality of Panglao,” the magistrate said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez