Ombudsman suspends Marinduque board member

BATANGAS, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the one-year suspension without pay of Marinduque 1st District Board Member John Pelaez over an administrative complaint filed against him in December 2016.

In an 11-page decision recommended by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Pelaez was found guilty of abuse of authority and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the  service.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Ronel Ganibo, Jeffrey Masculino, and Berwin Rivera, all residents of Barangay Balimbing in Boac, who accused Pelaez of pointing a gun at them at the Marinduque Food Center.

Pelaez suspected that he was the subject of a conversation between Rivera and the storekeeper. The complainants denied they were talking about Pelaez and clarified that they were not laughing at him, but the latter supposedly did not accept their apology, saying, "Gusto 'nyo pagpapatayin ko kayo dito! Baka hindi 'nyo ako kilala! Ako si Bokal Pelaez!"

Pelaez then allegedly strangled Ganibo, and aimed the gun at his neck while dragging him. At that point, a police car arrived.

A medico-legal certificate and photos of physical injuries sustained by Ganibo supported the complainants' claim.

In his counter-affidavit, however, Pelaez denied the allegations. The Marinduque board member said he had learned that the complainants earlier figured in a similar confrontation with another group and he was merely trying to manage their unruly behavior.

Pelaez added that he wanted to make sure they were already going home so that they could not create any further trouble.

The Ombudsman did not find merit in Pelaez's explanation.

"It is inconceivable that respondent followed complainants all along to the town plaza just to urge them to go home. Respondent could easily call for police assistance to accompany complainants to their respective residences, but he did not," said the Ombudsman.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) was instructed to implement the suspension order. –