By Chito Chavez
Forty-five mayors in the country are now facing administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for their failure to comply with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) directive that compels them to activate, create, and have functional Anti-Illegal Drugs Abuse Council (ADAC) in their respective localities.
The DILG recently filed the complaint against 25 non-complying mayors in addition to the initial batch of 20 mayors charged on March 14, bringing the total to 45 for their violation of Section 60 of Republic Act 7160 or Misconduct of Office and Dereliction of Duty.
Of the 45 mayors, 15 are from the Bicol Region, particularly Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon provinces.
Seven are from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), specifically Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Lanao Del Sur provinces.
Five are from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) – Abra and Ifugao provinces while five mayors are from Palawan.
Also included in the complaint are four mayors from Cebu in Central Visayas.
In CARAGA, three mayors from Agusan Del Norte province are listed in the complaint.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año also noted “there are also three in Calabarzon, precisely in Laguna and Quezon provinces.’’
“Moreover, there are two from Cagayan Valley – one in Cagayan province and one in Nueva Vizcaya. There is also one in Eastern Visayas, from Eastern Samar province,’’ he added.
Año asserted the DILG’s filing of the cases against the erring mayors should serve as a warning that the Duterte administration is hell-bent on eradicating or at least minimizing illegal drug trade in the country.
With the filing of these cases, stubborn mayors may likely end up in the President’s narco-politician list for supposedly allowing the proliferation of illegal drug transactions in their turfs with the absence of ADAC.
“Despite several directives from the DILG and the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), the concerned mayors still failed or refused to comply with the said orders and their towns are among those that are without an organized and functional ADAC,” said Año.
The DILG and the DDB issued Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2018-01 on May 21, 2018, mandating all local government units (LGUs) to activate, strengthen and ensure the functionality of their local ADACs; approve a comprehensive local anti-drug plan of action to eliminate drug affectation; and appropriate a substantial amount of funds for anti-illegal drugs related programs, activities and operations.
This was followed by numerous DILG directives and DDB regulations which have been cascaded to LGUs to remind and direct local chief executives to organize their respective ADACs.
“For their refusal or neglect to organize their local ADAC, the 45 mayors have committed grave misconduct in office and gross dereliction of duty,” he noted.
Misconduct is a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by a public officer, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error in judgment.
According to Año, these are grounds for which an elective official may be disciplined, suspended or removed from office pursuant to Section 60 of the Local Government Code of 1991.
“It is President Duterte himself who is leading the fight against illegal drugs and yet these local governments simply did not heed several orders and reminders and did not step up to the plate,’’ said Año.
He clarified “the DILG is still validating from its regional offices the alleged non- compliance of another list of mayors and may file another set of complaints in the next few weeks.’’