Ombudsman suspends 11 Cebu officials for illegal demolition
09 January 2017
The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the 2-month suspension of Medellin Mayor Ricardo Ramirez, Vice-Mayor Juan Alfonso Lim, Sangguaniang Bayan members Lee RJ Villapez, Raymond Olivar, Joevenus Inot, Horacio Franco, Artemio Noynay, Conrado Mangubat, Leonardo Montilla, Kendrick Allen Lim and Atty. Ritchie Capahi of the Provincial Legal Office. The local executives were found guilty of Simple Misconduct and Simple Negligence for unlawfully ordering the demolition of the house of a certain Tirso Seares of Barangay Kawit.
In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondents’ two-month salary.
In its Joint Resolution, the Ombudsman found that Seares’ house was demolished without due process. Complainant established that in September 2013, the respondents sent a demand letter to Seares directing him to voluntarily demolish the house allegedly built on a public road that serves as main access to the shorelines of the barangay. After failing to heed the demand, respondents passed a Resolution declaring “the house as a nuisance and contrary to the municipality’s interest and authorized Ramirez to demolish the house, without any qualification.”
In April 2014, it took the demolition team six hours to carry out the directive to remove the structure.
According to the Ombudsman, “respondents cannot just resort to a procedural shortcut of ousting Seares from the premises by the simple expedient act of summarily annihilating his abode via a mere unilateral demolition order.”
Under the Local Government Code, municipalities are granted the power to issue demolition orders only for illegally constructed houses, buildings or other structures. In this case, respondents failed to show proof that the house was illegally built.
The charges for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were dismissed due to lack of probable cause. ###