8 Makati barangay officials, including chairman, suspended for 90 days

Eight officials of Barangay Carmona, Makati, including its chairman, were suspended for 90 days for neglecting to submit and enact the barangay annual investment program and budget in 2019 and 2020, according to the local government unit (LGU) of Makati City.

The city government said the suspension order against barangay chairman Joselito Salvador, presiding officer of the Sangguniang Barangay, and Kagawads Jason Layug, Andres Chua, Jeffrey Sordan, Christopher Guerra, Rosalie Garcia, Maria Andrea Paula Vicente, and Virgilio Guillermo will take effect on July 4, 2021.

In a Makati City Council resolution, it stated that Barangay Carmona operated on a reenacted budget for two consecutive years which deprived the residents of Carmona of much-needed social services and benefits because no funds were available for the implementation of social programs and services.

Under a reenacted budget, allowable expenses are limited to salaries and wages, essential operating expenses like utilities and supplies, and statutory and contractual obligations.

City Resolution No. 2021-027 noted strong evidence of guilt that the Sangguniang Barangay of Carmona failed to perform its duty of enacting its Annual Appropriations Ordinance for 2019 and 2020, as mandated by the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act 7160).

“The enactment of the annual budget cannot be overemphasized as operations of the barangay are dependent on the funds available for the services that it renders on a daily basis,” said lawyer Cherry Canda-Melodias, director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Makati , in her comment submitted to the City Council.

Section 60 (c) of RA 7160 provides that an elective official may be disciplined, suspended, or removed from office on the grounds of dishonesty, oppression, misconduct in office, gross negligence, or dereliction of duty.

DILG-Makati, for the meantime, will act as the caretaker of the barangay during the 90-day suspension period.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed last May 7, 2021 by Reneil de Guzman, a resident of the said barangay, who accused the said officials of “gross negligence” for allegedly not submitting/enacting the Annual Investment Program (AIP) and Annual Budget of Barangay Carmona for both calendar years 2019 and 2020.

DILG-Makati forwarded the verified complaint to the city council pursuant to Section 61 (C) of RA 7160, which states that “a complaint against any elective barangay official shall be filed before the sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan concerned whose decision shall be final and executory.”

During the council’s regular session on May 12, 2021, the complaint was referred to the Committee on Laws, Rules, and Ethics and was subsequently docketed as Administrative Case No. 2021-002. On May 14, the respondents were informed of the complaint filed against them and were directed to submit their verified answer 15 days from receipt of the notice. Their consolidated verified answer was submitted to the committee on May 28, 2021.

After the hearings conducted on June 9 and June 16, which were attended by the respondents, the Makati City Council issued its resolution recommending a 90-day suspension to be meted out to the eight barangay officials.

The council resolution cited the comments of key city officials, including Liga ng mga Barangay president Maribel Vitales, the DILG-Makati director, the city budget officer, and the city urban development officer, supported by documentary evidence.

Vitales said in her comment that Barangay Carmona officials did not heed constant reminders issued by her office to barangay officials of Makati pertaining to compliance with budgetary requirements under the law.

Melodias stressed that there was “flagrant and palpable” breach of duty on the part of barangay chair Salvador and of the Sangguniang Barangay. The former failed to perform his duty as local chief executive to prepare and submit the executive budget on the prescribed date, while the latter failed to perform Section 319 of RA 7160. The said section provides that “on or before the end of the current fiscal year, the sanggunian concerned shall, through an ordinance, approve the annual budget of the local government unit of the ensuing fiscal year on the basis of the estimates of income and expenditures submitted by the local chief executive.”

Section 63 (b) of RA 7160 states that preventive suspension may be imposed at any time after the issues are joined, when the evidence of guilt is strong and given the gravity of the offense, there is great probability that the continuance in office of the respondent could influence the witnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other evidence.