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Tabaco Mayor Luistro hails lifting of suspension order by Ombudsman

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Tabaco City Mayor Cielo Krisel Lagman Luistro has welcomed the lifting of the suspension order slapped against her and other local officials in Albay province by the Office of the Ombudsman.

The mayor, in a phone interview Wednesday night, said the Ombudsman might have considered the motion for reconsideration she had filed.

Luistro said she would still wait for the Court of Appeals’ (CA) decision on her request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), questioning the Ombudsman order.

In its order dated Sept. 3, the Ombudsman lifted the suspension of Luistro as well as Polangui town Mayor Cherilie Mella Sampal, and Polangui Councilors Jesciel Richard Salceda, William Buendia, Sr., Edgar Arbo and Edna Siguenza, pending a review of the environmental case it slapped against the local chief executives.

The suspended officials received the order lifting their suspension on September 19.

The order signed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires also directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to implement it.

The withdrawal of the suspension, once implemented, will allow the local officials to return and assume their posts and receive their withheld salaries.

Eloisa Pastor, DILG 5 (Bicol) director, in a separate interview, said they would implement the order once they receive a directive from Interior officer-in-charge Secretary Eduardo Año.

“What we received was a phoned information from central office saying that the implementation order is yet to be signed by Secretary Año,” she said.

According to Pastor, the DILG chief will sign the order s soon as he arrives from an official travel on Friday. She assured that the order would be implemented by next week.

When asked how the concerned mayors got hold of the order, she said the Ombudsman, as a standard procedure, issued a copy of the order to the respondents.

“Good for them, they already have a copy, but on our side, we have to receive yet the implementing order signed by the Secretary Año,” she said.

The Office of the Ombudsman slapped a one-year suspension order on Luistro last March for her alleged failure to close an open dump site despite an earlier warning, Pastor said.

The environmental team of the Environmental Ombudsman Program recommended the suspension after the team found her liable for gross neglect of duty.

The order also carried a directive for Luistro to immediately close and rehabilitate the dump site and desist from establishing an open dump site in Barangay San Antonio in Tabaco City.

In an earlier interview, the mayor described the suspension order as unmeritorious, stressing that she complied with the order to close the open dump site on March 17 last year.

She said the local government unit is in the process of bidding for a sanitary landfill.

The Ombudsman suspended Sampal and four town councilors for allegedly not complying with the proper waste disposal program under Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

They were charged for gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Polangui town is operating an open dump site in Sitio Barobo, Barangay Sugtad. (PNA)