Dagupan’s welfare officer dismissed from office

December 9, 2010 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment


CITY Mayor Benjamin S. Lim ordered the dismissal of City Social Welfare and Development Officer (CSWDO) Elsa P. Santillan from government service effective November 24.

Lim said his decision agreeing to the committee report that substantial evidence was found in Santillan’s case to merit the extreme administrative penalty of dismissal from the service based on
civil service prescribed-rules. Santillan was charged of the administrative offenses of dishonesty, grave misconduct and serious neglect in the performance of duty.
On September 9, 2010, Santillan was preventively suspended for 60 days and the Investigation Committee headed by City
Administrator Vladmir Mata was formed thru Executive Order No. 30

Lim said the suspension order was to prevent her from possibly exerting undue influence or pressure upon the witnesses who executed
their affidavits and the reason for her administrative case.

Santillan’s legal counsel, Atty. Teodora S. Cerdan soon moved for the inhibition of Mata as chairman of the committee on the ground that he
allegedly pressured the affiants in executing the affidavits, and thus, would not be able to preside with impartiality.
On the principle that the authority of the committee is limited to the conduct of the investigation and submission of a report and recommendation, Lim, together with the members of the committee denied
the motion for inhibition.

Witnesses, in their affidavit, said Santillan directed a subordinate, Josephine De Vera, to receive various amounts of money from different occupants of spaces within the CSWDO compound.

The occupants are Carlota Laparan, Roda Remuto and Nida Ramos.

Laparan affirmed and confirmed the contents of her affidavit executed on August 25, 2010 that she regularly paid the CSWDO P50 daily rental
for her eatery. She gave the said amount to De Vera and at times to Santillan inside her office.

She also testified that Santillan (despite being preventively suspended) together with a senior barangay official made it look like she recanted her August 25 affidavit by convincing her to sign another
affidavit inside a barangay hall.

Remuto stated that she operates a burger stand within the compound of the CSWDO and pays P300 as monthly rental to De Vera.

She, too testified that she was made to execute a second affidavit, at the instance of Santillan in which she was made to say that some
allegations in her first affidavit were incorrect or untrue.

Santillan tried to justify the collections, citing as basis a letter dated December 22, 2009, of the then City Mayor, Alipio F. Fernandez
Jr.

“Careful perusal of the said letter reveals however, that it cannot be considered as a valid authority, to enable Santillan, or any other
person acting in her behalf to collect amounts of money for occupying specific areas within the compound of any government office, for livelihood activities,” Lim said.

The mayor added: “It is an elementary rule that collection of any fee or permit, may not be imposed by the government, unless there is an ordinance or provision of law duly enacted, which authorizes the
collection or imposition of fees. Collection of any fee, regardless of the amount, without the requisite ordinance, provision of law or agency regulation may be considered as illegal exaction or even
extortion.”

The amounts collected were allegedly used for the purchase of ornamental plants, and spent for the installation of the gates and concreting of pavements within the CSWDO compound.

“Granting without conceding, that collections were made in good faith, the utilization of the amount is still improper. The letter is by no means an authority for the chief of office to collect maintenance
costs. Clearly therefore, Santillan acted without or beyond the scope of her authority. She has arrogated unto herself, a power which is not
delegated by law, particularly of Section 483, R.A. 7160 or any existing law, nor a validly delegated authority from a duly authorized person or authority,” said Lim.

Another fact revealed during the conduct of the investigation was the existence of expired goods in the warehouse of the CSWDO.

“As a responsible public employee, Santillan cannot claim lack of knowledge of the very nature and actual status of whatever goods that comes into her possession. Verily, the mere existence of the expired
noodles at the CSWDO warehouse is by itself, an indication of misfeasance of the responsible custodian thereof,” said Lim.

“It is unfortunate, that she, even after she was exposed red-handed,on television, of having expired food in her custody, had the temerity
to claim that said expired noodles are still fit to be eaten six months after its expiration date. Such a statement, considered to be irresponsible, simply reveal her ineptness or callousness, considering
that the safety of the needy, which they vow to protect and care for, is put at risk and compromised,” the mayor explained in his decision.

Citing the case of Remona vs. CSC, 362 SCRA 304, Lim declared: “The principle is that when an officer or employee is disciplined, the object sought is not the punishment of such officer or employee but the improvement of public service and the preservation of the public’s faith and confidence in the government.”

Entry filed under: News.

BM NIÑO, ang BM ninyo sa 5th district EDITORIAL

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