Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mayor takes law into her own hands.

MANILA -- The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) found Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte guilty of misconduct for punching a court sheriff during a demolition of illegal settlers' shanties last July 1.
However, the DILG could not file administrative charges against the mayor due to some legal actions earlier filed by the Sheriffs Confederation of the Philippines (Scophil) at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said Scophil's complaint precluded the DILG from filing its own administrative case against the mayor because "this will violate the principle of forum-shopping."
Aside from the direct assault charge filed by the sheriffs' group, a Manila-based lawyer also filed disbarment case against Duterte at the Supreme Court.
"This level understands Mayor Duterte's attempt to help her constituents avoid bloodshed or prevent sustaining injuries to them by delaying enforcing the court order for at least two hours. But punching the court sheriff was neither an acceptable nor the only option then obtaining," read the report submitted by Robredo to President Benigno Aquino III.
Duterte lost her cool and punched Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 16 sheriff Abe Andres repeatedly in the face after not granting the mayor's request of a two-hour extension before pushing through with the demolition.
The incident happened at Agdao district here on July 1, when Andres implemented a writ of demolition on hundreds of illegal shanties on a privately owned property.
In the same report, Robredo said Duterte's defense was inexcusable and that she could have averted the demolition without using force.
"While it is true that she did not...manifest anything that will show her defiance of the writ of demolition...her acts of preventing the execution of the order of Judge (Emmanuel) Carpio, particularly when she punched Sheriff (Abe) Andres, could be an act of misconduct," the report read.
"She could have achieved the same purpose by directing the policemen that she was settling the matter. She could have summoned and confronted the sheriff and plead her case for the affected families without taking the law into her own hands," it added.
Robredo said Duterte could have talked to the plaintiff for her to be given the requested grace period or she could still exhaust remaining or possible legal remedies that will stay the demolition, temporarily or otherwise.
"When Mayor Duterte did not venture in any of these options, probable cause has existed for her to be indicted for misconduct," the report said.
Robredo also noted that the court had a share of missteps when it tried to enforce the demolition, through Andres, without observing the required 30-day notice.
The report said the court should have taken into consideration that the affected families are mostly urban dwellers and that the 30-day reglamentary period must have been applied.
It was referring to a provision of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, which states that a 30-day grace period must be observed before the implementation of the demolition order.
"Had the 30-day notice rule been applied, the tension that erupted between the urban poor dwellers and the demolition team that was triggered by affecting the writ and that led to the untoward incident involving the Mayor and the sheriff could have not taken place," the order read.
As for Duterte's close-in security aide Police Officer 2 Dennis Roderick Cabudti, the department asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) to conduct an investigation to determine any administrative liability.
Cabudti was the police officer caught on video footages grabbing Andres by the hand and head and dragging him to the mayor during the incident.
The report also contained the department's recommendations to the Office of the Supreme Court Administrator on how to avoid a repeat of such incident.
On Wednesday, Duterte remained mum on the recommendation of the DILG to Aquino, who is her political ally.
"No official copy was given to me. I will not comment on the statements of DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo. I will just wait for notice of summons for the cases," the mayor said.
Duterte earlier said she is ready to face whatever legal and even personal consequences that she might face over the incident.
Even if it means disbarment and dismissal from her post, Duterte said she will accept it whole-heartedly.
Duterte said she is ready to be excluded in the roll of attorneys for after all, she has not been practicing her profession. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

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