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CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar -- The acting mayor of this city will focus on providing the necessary services to residents during his six-month stint as local chief executive.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) designated Councilor Archie Fuentes as the new mayor, replacing Stephany Uy-Tan who faces six-month suspension over alleged anomalous land acquisition deal.

Aside from Uy-Tan, also suspended are Vice Mayor Art Sherwin Gabon, seven councilors and three other city officials.

Fuentes and acting Vice Mayor Kendall Luke Perez took their oath on Thursday.

During the flag-raising ceremony here Monday, Fuentes asked for the support of the city government’s employees to help him carry out development activities in the next six months.

Fuentes said he will focus on transparency, accountability and participatory form of government while serving as city mayor.

“There will be consultation on important policies and program that the city government will implement. Under my term, I will continue to implement the good programs of the suspended mayor,” he told employees.

He said since his term will end exactly on the day that the new elected mayor will takeover, he assures of having a smooth transition of government.

Fuentes added he will still need to be briefed by the DILG on what his function will be as acting mayor along with the acting vice-mayor.

For his part, Perez said as the head of the legislative body, he cannot do his function properly without the support of city council members.

Presently, only the Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) president remains as member of the city legislative body pending the election of federation president representing the city’s village chiefs. Both officials are ex-officio members of the city council.

The other elected city council members were also suspended with the ongoing investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Suspended city council members include Coefredo Uy, Jeffry Uy, Maximo Pescos, Edward Uy, Christine Joy Escobar, Beethoven Bermejo, and Nanette Jasmin.

Also suspended for six months were City Assessor Romero Tuazon, his assistant Arthur Macabare, and Office of the City Assessor employee Rizal Ignacio.

Last Nov. 26, Ombudsman Samuel Martires approved the preventive suspension on Uy-Tan, along with some city council officials and other city employees, for six months over charges of abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and gross neglect for the purchase of land from private individuals.

The land purchase case stemmed from the complaint of city council legislative staff officer Bernard Jake Ramos, who alleged that the respondents purchased an eight-hectare agricultural land owned by Alvin Cesar Laohoo and Lorenzo Laohoo Jr. in the amount of PHP120.225 million, which is much higher than its market value of PHP155,497 in 2016.

Uy-Tan denied there is overpricing based on actual assessment.

In fact, the city earned from the deal for purchasing the lot for only PHP1,500 per square meter, lower than the PHP3,500 to PHP8,000 price offerings of nearby properties. (PNA)

Photo from Sunstar

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