GENERAL SANTOS CITY – In a bid to avoid further controversy, the Supreme Court (SC) has called off the scheduled assembly of court employees of at least four Mindanao regions in Davao City next month and instead moved the event to nearby Sarangani province.
Sarangani Regional Trial Court Judge Oscar Noel said Thursday the SC’s Office of the Court Administrator ordered the transfer of the venue for the Philippine Association of Court Employees (PACE)-Mindanao Cluster 4 regional assembly as a result of the controversial punching earlier this month of a court sheriff by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
The PACE regional assembly was initially scheduled on August 18 at the Almendras gymnasium in Davao City.
PACE’s Mindanao Cluster 4 is composed of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Caraga, Region 11 or Davao Region and Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao.
“This is to avoid any possible misinterpretation later on considering that there is an ongoing investigation against her (Mayor Duterte),” Noel said.
Mayor Duterte is currently facing direct assault and grave misconduct charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for punching Davao City RTC sheriff Abe Andres following a court-directed demolition of squatters at a portion of the city last July 1.
The mayor punched Andres several time on the face after she reportedly got irked over the latter’s failure to heed her earlier request to delay a scheduled demolition of houses in the city’s Agdao district for at least two hours.
Andres had decided not to file any complaint against Duterte but his colleagues in the Sheriff’s Confederation of the Philippines, Inc. decided to pursue the charges.
Girlie Sebastian, PACE-Sarangani president, said they received the SC’s decision regarding the transfer of their assembly’s venue several days ago through Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez.
She said the hosting of the event was initially offered to this city in September but the local government was forced to turn it down due to the lack of available facilities to accommodate the estimated 1,500 court employees that will attend the assembly.
Sebastian said most of the hotels and convention centers in the city are already booked for the month of September due to the upcoming Tuna Festival and charter anniversary celebration of the city.
Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez said they agreed to host the event at the provincial gymnasium in Alabel town. He assured that the province has enough ready facilities to accommodate the court employees who would join the assembly. “We’re considering it as an opportunity to further promote our tourist attractions here in Sarangani,” he said. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)