By Freddie Lazaro
BANGUED, Abra– Malacanang has upheld the six-month suspension of Lagayan, Abra Mayor Jendricks Luna and his wife, Vice Mayor Joy Chrisma for dishonesty and grave misconduct in connection with an unfinished road project.
President Duterte, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, favored the ruling of the provincial board to suspend the Lunas, said “the nature of the cases involve corruption and illegal disbursement of public funds.
“It is even alleged that after Regional Director (Mario) Iringan (DILG-CAR) issued a stay order against the execution of the (board’s) decisions, appellant Mayor Jendricks Luna, without authority withdrew millions of pesos from the bank account of the municipality with the Land Bank of the Philippines,” Medialdea said.
The Lunas were suspended by Abra Vice Gov. Ronald Balao-as with eight of the nine-member provincial board ruling last Dec. 6, them guilty of dishonesty and grave misconduct in connection with the concreting of the 1,740-meter Bai-Nagba Road in Barangay Ba-i, Lagayan worth P1,071.850.
On August 6 last year, Lagayan Sanguniang Bayan member Noel Cortez complained that the road project, funded by Lagayan’s Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), has remained “a pebble and dirt road”.
Mayor Luna, in responding to the Abra provincial board’s suspension, petitioned the Office of the President that he keeps his post, citing Administrative Order 22 series of 2011 by President Benigno Aquino III giving an appellant to the Office of the President 60 days to stay pending final decision.
Last Feb. 14, DILG-CAR Director Mario Iringan issued a stay order against the Abra provincial board’s suspension.
But Duterte ruled on March 13, taking into consideration of the exigency of the situation involving public funds, “to (resume) the suspension already imposed and being served by the (Lunas as appellants) before the same was stayed by the DILG.”
The prohibition against suspensions within the election period cannot apply because the suspension was issued prior to the election period, Duterte added, while directing an immediate implementation of the suspension against the Lunas.
In his statement, Cortez expressed elation over the Palace ruling.