The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) ordered the suspension of Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua on Friday and designated the vice governor as acting provincial governor, in compliance with a directive from the Office of the Ombudsman.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that the DILG Regional Office 5 in Legazpi City served the Ombudsman suspension order at around 11 a.m. Friday at the Governor’s office at the Catanduanes Provincial Capitol in Virac town.
“Our campaign against corruption is unrelenting and we are working closely with the Office of the Ombudsman in its anti-corruption efforts,” he said.
The Office of the Ombudsman suspended Cua for a period of six months, without pay, pending on an investigation due to the charges against him for alleged abuse of authority, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service, dishonesty and grave misconduct.
The DILG Chief said that he also issued an order designating Vice Governor Sherley Abundo as acting governor effective immediately. Abundo shall perform all the duties and functions inherent to the Office of the Governor.
“Our action suspending the Governor of Catanduanes is in compliance with the decision of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon imposing a preventive suspension during the pendency of OMB-LA-18-0-319 case entitled “Rey Mendez vs. Gov. Joseph Cua and Mayor Eulogio Rodriguez,” said Año.
The governor’s suspension stemmed from the administrative complaint filed by a certain Rey Mendez of Virac town before the Office of the Ombudsman against him and the Mayor of Bato, Catanduanes. In his complaint, Mendez claimed that Cua allegedly allowed ER Construction, a firm owned by Mayor Rodriguez, to use a vacant lot owned by the province free of charge and without the proper authorization from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
In its Order, the Ombudsman said that the “testimony of the complainant and the documents presented, which are indicative of strong evidence of guilt, at this stage, compel this office to grant the preventive suspension prayed for.”
“In addition, Cua’s continued stay in office pending the final disposition of this complaint may prejudice the case filed against him, more particularly witnesses and other documentary evidence that are still under their control,” it said.
The Ombudsman, however, denied the prayer for preventive suspension against Mayor Eulogio Rodriguez of Bato, Catanduanes.
Photo from ABS-CBN News