Surigao opposition dads decry ‘denial’ of venue for oath-taking

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/01 July) — The manager of the City Cultural Center is in hot water for allegedly denying the use of the facility for the oath-taking ceremony of five city councilors belonging to the opposition bloc.

On Thursday, the city council passed a resolution for the relief of Susette Penaranda pending investigation of the matter by the legislative body and her transfer to the Maharlika Center Annex.

The oath-taking program of the five city councilors last June 15 was held in another venue because the center was padlocked on that date.

“We felt the padlocking of the City Cultural Center as deliberate denial of our right to take our oath separately as a group of five councilors,” said lawyer Jose Begil Jr.

Aside from Begil, lawyers Lunceniano Lancin and Fernando Almeda III, Leonilo Aldonza and Baltazar Abian took their oath instead on the stairs leading to the city council office before Victor Canoy, executive judge of the Regional Trial Court of Surigao City.

Penaranda, a former city councilor, told reporters earlier that the booking on June 15, 2013 was not for an oath-taking ceremony but for a solidarity program and get-together activity.

Begil said it was his staffer, Gene Sawan-on, who booked and reserved that day and paid a rent of 3,000 pesos.

The councilor said that part of the solidarity program and get-together was their oath-taking ceremony as elected officials.

He added that earlier another staffer of his made a booking for the same date under his name but was denied saying that that date had already been booked.

Begil said Penaranda’s explanations appeared to be flimsy and could not overcome the positive rules of the city ordinance regarding the use of the center, rules of public service and basic courtesy.

“This involves the integrity of the public office and public service that is governed by law and not by the whims of any persons, no matter what her power may be,” he said.

MindaNews tried to contact Peneranda but to no avail. Her staff said she was out of office to buy something.

The committee on trade, industry and economic enterprise, committee on good government and committee on rules are conducting hearings on the complaint of the five opposition councilors. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)