MAGALANG, Pampanga – “I am taking this as a clear sign of abuse of authority.”
Thus said Vice Mayor Norman Lacson as he assailed the order of Mayor Romulo Pecson asking him to vacate his office within 72 hours. The order to vacate was received by the office of Lacson on November 12 and the vice mayor should have left his office at the ground floor of legislative building by November 15.
“In the exigency of the service and pursuant to Section 444 of Republic Act No. 7160 which provides that municipal mayor shall have the power ‘To allocate and assign office space to municipal and other official and employees who, by law or ordinance, are entitled to such space in the municipal hall and other buildings owned or leased by the municipal government,’ Wherefore, you are hereby ordered to vacate, within seventy two hours, the premise/space that you are presently occupying in the ground floor of the Sangguniang Bayan Building as the undersigned have been allocated it to the Business Permit and Licensing Office and sectoral affairs office in accordance with the clear provision of law cited above. This kind of move by this office is to address various concerns just within the bounds of law. For your strict compliance,” said the order of Pecson.
Lacson said the mayor did not even mention in the order where he will transfer.
The three-term vice mayor was known ally and runningmate of former Mayor Malu Lacson, who lost by 27 votes to Pecson in the last elections.
Lacson, who called a press conference on November 15, issued a statement to journalists narrating the circumstances which led to the issuance of the order.
“On the afternoon of Monday, November 11, 2019, at around 2:00 PM, on my way out of the legislative building, I passed by two unidentified persons who were installing an unknown equipment at the Legislative Hall without any coordination with any personnel from key offices of the municipality (Human Resource, and Management Department, Engineering Department, the Sangguniang Bayan, the BPLO and the Office of the Vice- Mayor. Upon seeing these unidentified persons drilling holes in the walls of the building, I took the liberty to request that they coordinate properly with the appropriate offices, especially with mentioning Mr. Ricardo David, the acting BPLO who also occupy the right wing of the first floor of the legislative building and left them immediately after,” said Lacson.
“At around 3:00 PM, I was called by my staff as two PNP personnel were sent to the Legislative Building to assist these unidentified men in what they were doing. I was informed that the Mayor asked for police assistance in anticipation of possible commotion between the Vice Mayor and the persons in charge of installing the equipment. The arrival to the Legislative Building and the assistance provided by these uniformed personnel to the unidentified persons can be verified as this was covered by our CCTV footage. It was clearly shown that two PNP personnel accompanied these persons to the building and they stood there while these persons installed said equipment . There was no commotion as I have left the said persons after requesting them to seek proper coordination from authorized offices thinking I was doing my job as the Presiding Officer and occupant of the Legislative Building,” he added.
Lacson said the two unidentified workers drilling holes at their building were reportedly connected to a contractor who is close to the mayor. He added that he will launch an investigation into the project which reportedly cost P800,000.
Lacson said Pecson allegedly got mad that’s why he abruptly asked him to leave his office.
Lacson said he was surprised by the action of Pecson because they as whole in the town council, including the members of the opposition, were “very supportive of the projects of the mayor.”
“We approve everything he asked us to approve before this sad incident happened,” he said.
Lacson said he also transferred Tourism Officer Ryan Miranda to “in the mountains where there is no office.”Pecson also asked Miranda to lead an office which doesn’t exist, he added.
Miranda was one of the trusted men of former Mayor Malu Lacson during her term.
PECSON DEFENDS ORDER
In an interview at his office on November 15, Pecson said he was merely asking Lacson to vacate his office which originally occupied by the BPLO.
He said more than 3,000 businesses are expected to troop to the small office allotted to them by Lacson near the vice mayor’s office.
“How can they fit? They will have a hard time. We just want to follow the order of President Duterte to apply ease in doing business,” said Pecson in the local dialect.
“I am the mayor and I am in charge,” he added.
Pecson said the vice mayor can transfer his office at the second floor of the legislative building where there is enough space.
The mayor said Lacson should have reached out to him if he did like his order to vacate his office.
“I am open to dialogue,” Pecson said. But he stressed his order to vacate his office is final.
“I will not use force. But will find a way to remove his office for the benefit of the people of Magalang ,” he added.
The mayor said the project stopped by Lacson was a biometrics project aimed at making the workers perform their duties well.