Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bugo's 2 'chairs' sue each other

THE warring leaders of Bugo, Nerio Obliosca and Perseverando Araña Jr., yesterday filed charges against each other in hopes of quickly breaking a standoff that stemmed from a power struggle last Monday.

The two village politicians have each claimed to be the legal chair of Bugo, one of the biggest and vote-rich barangays of Cagayan de Oro. Since Monday afternoon, Obliosca and Arana have been separately holding office in their houses.

Obliosca was appointed chairperson of the barangay by Mayor Vicente Emano after Arana submitted a letter of resignation last February.
But on Monday, Arana attempted to reclaim Bugo’s top post, arguing that President Arroyo failed to accept his resignation.

Jose Alejandro Pallugna, Obliosca’s lawyer, filed a petition to prohibit Araña from exercising the powers of the barangay chair. Pallugna filed a petition for mandamus and a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO).

Pallugna said the petition was aimed at protecting Obliosca’s post from being contested by anyone.

Pallugna said Obliosca would step down only if the court says so.‘‘You cannot take the law into your own hands,’’ said Pallugna, referring to Arana.

But Araña through his lawyer, Rogelio Bagabuyo, filed a petition for quo-warranto to prevent Obliosca from continuing to serve as Bugo’s barangay chair.

Obliosca is facing an uphill battle because none of the barangay councilors are supporting him. Despite this, Obliosca is clinging on to the post, maintaining that he is had the legal edge.

He said he has an oath of office to prove that he legally assumed as the village chief after Arana resigned early this year.

However, Araña maintained that he has remained as the barangay chair of Bugo because President Arroyo did not sign his resignation papers. He said his resignation letter only reached Mayor Emano.

Araña and Bugo councilors questioned the legality of the Obliosca’s "oath of office.""The proper authority to confirm or approve the resignation of the government officials is the office of the President and not that of the city mayor’s," Araña said.

Bagabuyo said only the President has the authority to accept the resignation of any member of the barangay council, including the chair, based on Republic Act 9340.

A provision in RA 9340 states that "all incumbent barangay officials shall remain in office unless soonest removed or suspended for cause until their successors shall have been elected and qualified."

With the terms of the Sangguniang Barangay extended until 2007, Araña said he had opted not to take advantage of the holdover capacity rule, hence his February resignation.

But Arana said the political crisis in Bugo prompted him to stage a comeback last Monday. He said he could not ignore the calls of his fellow barangay councilors for him to reassume.

Thus, at the height of Independence Day celebrations last Monday, Araña tried to retake the barangay hall with the full support of Bugo’s councilors.

"I am still the barangay captain of Bugo and I will not step down unless the court will says so," said Obliosca as he filed three cases against Arana.

"Araña is now coming back like an intruder," said Pallugna.

Araña, a lawyer by professon, said he would sign transactions on behalf of Bugo because he is "still the legitimate barangay chairperson." He reiterated that he did not receive any document that
would show that President Arroyo accepted his resignation.

"I did not even receive an order or an approval in regard to my resignation from the office of Mayor Emano," Araña said.

Pallugna warned that Araña could be charged with "usurpation of authority" if he forces the issue.

"He became an ordinary citizen of Bugo after he resigned," Pallugna said.

Obliosca sharply criticized Araña, saying he created ‘‘chaos’’ in Bugo.

"He has been deceiving people. He resigned and then he wants to return just because councilors want him to," said Obliosca.

Obliosca called Arana a "man with no words."

Bagabuyo, Arana’s lawyer, disagreed. He said Obliosca was the one who has been usurping on the powers of village chief because he was ‘‘not properly elected.’’

‘‘The assumption of Obliosca is unlawful,’’ said Bagabuyo.

Bugo’s councilors dislike Obliosca. They have accused Obliosca of forging signatures of villagers for the "People’s Initiative" campaign for Charter change early this year. They have also accused him of bypassing the barangay council in some of decisions like the termination of workers’ services.

Tension has been gripping Bugo since councilors and villagers padlocked the barangay hall last month. Anti-Obliosca rallies were staged in Bugo prior to Arana’s attempt to retake the chairmanship of Bugo last Monday.

Obliosca is facing charges of illegal dismissal and misconduct before the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). (That can be read at Gold Star Daily)

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