Dismissed municipal workers send ex-mayor to jail for 152 years

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    TWENTY-four rank-and-file municipal employees of Taft, Eastern Samar who were illegally dismissed in 2005 have gotten even by sending their former mayor to jail for 152 to 200 years.

    The employees also made former mayor Francisco C. Adalim poorer by P23 million after the Sandiganbayan ordered the defendant to compensate the complainants for unpaid salaries, allowances and benefits from 2005 to 2012.

    In its 34-page decision, the anti-graft court likewise perpetually barred Adalim from employment in government in any position.

    Case records showed the Office of the Ombudsman filed 25 counts of graft and one count of open disobedience against Adalim in 2012 based on individual complaints filed by municipal employees.

    Among the complainants were utility workers, agricultural technologists, security guards, midwives, revenue collection officers, laborers, a nurse, a social welfare officer, and a day care worker.

    The complainants accused the former mayor of causing them undue injury by his defiance to a final and executory ruling of the Civil Service Commission dated August 10, 2009 directing him to reinstate the dismissed employees and pay their wages and salaries retroactively.

    Adalim’s troubles started from a disputed result of the May 2004 local elections wherein his opponent Diego T. Lim was initially declared the winner.

    On August 5, 2005, the Regional Trial Court of Borongan, Eastern Samar reversed the proclamation of Lim as mayor and Adalim was sworn in as the duly elected municipal mayor.

    In its resolution, the CSC noted that the 27 employees became casualties of the political bickering “for reporting to the wrong camp” as they were at a loss who was the rightful head of the local government unit.

    “(T)he ensuing confusion wrought on the municipality’s personnel … led Adalim to misperceive the acts of the 27 municipal employees as an abandonment of their office,” the Sandiganbayan noted, citing the CSC ruling.

    Unsatisfied with the 2009 CSC ruling ordering reinstatement, Adalim elevated the case to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the CSC’s decision in a resolution issued January 28, 2011.

    The Sandiganbayan held that the former mayor’s actions “brought unnecessary injury” to municipal employees which became the basis for his conviction.

    Although the defendant claimed that he implemented the CSC ruling after it became executory, verification by the CSC Region 7 Office showed that the workers were allowed to report to work but were not paid their salaries and were not given back their original work assignments.

    “Adalim’s obstinate adherence to the correctness of his position – even in the face of lawful orders requiring him to reinstate and pay back the affected employees – constitute a clear, notorious or plain predilection to favor one side rather than another,” the Sandiganbayan said.

    Accused was sentenced to six years and one month to eight years for each of the 25 counts of graft and four months for the open disobedience case for a total jail term of 152 to 200 years.

    The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Oscar C. Herrera Jr. with Associate Justices Michael Frederick L. Musngi and Lorifel Lacap Pahimna concurring.