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Ex-mayor Montilla gets jail term for defying suspension order

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Former Sipalay City mayor Oscar Montilla Jr. of Negros Occidental will spend up to eight years in prison for delaying the suspension order of his five subordinates in 2005.

The Sandiganbayan found Montilla guilty of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“We find that Montilla exhibited gross negligence in delaying the implementation of the ombudsman’s suspension order,” the decision read.

The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas charged Montilla with violation of the anti-graft law for his refusal to suspend the five City Hall employees. (https://dailyguardian.com.ph/ex-mayor-gets-jail-term-for-defying-ombudsman-order/)

The anti-graft office imposed a three-month suspension on Evangeline Seneres, Eva Sabusap, Fernando Balbin, Noel Villanueva, and Renato Manill for negligence on November 14, 2005.

However, Montilla filed a motion to defer the implementation of the suspension order, citing the opinion of the City Legal Officer that the Ombudsman ruling is not yet final and executory.

This prompted the anti-graft’s office to file administrative charges against Montilla, saying he gave “unwarranted benefit” to the five City Hall employees when he delayed for years the implementation of the suspension order without a legal basis.

Montilla, for his part, said he did not immediately enforce the suspension of the five employees upon the advice of their city legal officer.

He directed the city legal officer to enforce the suspension, but was advised to delay the implementation since the respondents have not yet received the order.

The Sandiganbayan said Montilla exhibited gross negligence in delaying the implementation of the ombudsman’s suspension order.

“Clearly, the Sipalay employees benefited from Montilla’s unjustified and improper postponement of the Ombudsman’s suspension orders,” the anti-graft court’s decision stated.

Apart from the jail term, Montilla is also barred him from holding any government position.