Mindanao Ombudsman Humprey Monteroso said the hiring of Valencia City Mayor Jose M. Galario, Jr. as consultant to the acting mayor “is a circumvention of the suspension order”.
Acting Mayor Benjamin Verano offered Galario the item which the latter received on January 3. Verano hired Galario as consultant from January 15 to April 2, a period within the latter's 90-day suspension.
"What cannot be done directly, cannot be done indirectly," Monteroso said in Monday’s letter to the Cagayan de Oro office of the Department of Interior and Local Government.
The DILG office in Bukidnon forwarded the query to the regional office on the legality of Verano's move. Galario reportedly said he will give up the consultancy post if contested.
Monteroso said Verano could also be criminally liable for engaging the services of the suspended mayor under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act 3019. Monteroso said Galario's suspension disqualified him to hold public office.
In his "Request for Consultancy" to Galario, Verano said the suspended mayor was “entitled to any privilege authorized by law including travel, transportation, fuel, hotel accommodation, meals and other incidental expenses incurred while in the performance of duty as consultant”.
Verano also authorized Galario to represent on his behalf in any official function.
He said the suspension served on Galario was a "qualified expulsion and whether termed as suspension or expulsion, it constitutes either temporary or permanent disenfranchisement".
Monteroso said in the letter that since Galario was suspended for three months, he was barred from holding public office and receiving any remuneration of whatever nature from the local government of Valencia City.