CITY OF SAN JOSE DEL MONTE, Bulacan: The former mayor of this city on Sunday denied recent statements made by President Rodrigo Duterte that he was dismissed from his office this year over an administrative case.
In an exclusive interview with The Manila Times, former city mayor Reynaldo San Pedro and his co-accused, former city councilor Reynaldo Policarpio, wanted to know who was responsible for feeding the wrong information to the President that they were removed from the service for corruption.
In fact, San Pedro and Policarpio both said they are still waiting for the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) on the administrative case.
“We are not corrupt officials, and we have no pending cases of corruption with any government investigating institution,” the two former officials told The Times.
In a video statement on November 30, President Duterte named government officials, who were allegedly dismissed in 2020 by the Office of the Ombudsman and other government probers.
In the statement, he ticked off the names of Reynaldo San Pedro and Reynaldo Policarpio.
“Binastos nila ang Pangulong Duterte, at hindi kami ang napahiya sa publiko. Kaya kung sino man ang nagbigay ng maling impormasyon sa kanya, dapat mag-esplika ng maayos at dapat sa kanya maimbestigahan (They disrespected the President, and we were not the ones embarrassed before the public. Whoever gave him the wrong information should explain what he did, and he should be investigated),” San Pedro further told The Manila Times.
“I have no ill-feelings against the President, and I am not denouncing him for issuing such [a] statement because I believed the information on which the statement was based was only fed by his staff or anybody inside the Palace,” he said..
In the video released by UNTV, the President said, “May mga pangalan dito na nagkakaso pero nadesisyunan lang ngayon lang. Itong mga ito, na-dismiss ang mga ito with finality taon na ito (There are names here of those whose cases have been resolved. These people were dismissed with finality this year.”
He named San Pedro and Policarpio as two former officials, who had been sacked.
The President said Policarpio was dismissed just this year from the service and that the decision became final also this year.
Duterte mentioned that San Pedro, whom he identified as a barangay (village) chairman, was also removed just this year from public office and the decision became final also this year.
Policarpio was a former city councilor, who ran for reelection in the 2016 and 2019 elections under the banner of San Pedro, who also sought reelection in the same years, but they both lost.
“How can you say that they were dismissed from the service when, in fact, they both served as elected government officials?” their lawyer Berteni Causing asked rhetorically to The Manila Times.
Causing argued that a person, who is no longer in the service of the government, cannot be dismissed from the service.
He admitted that Policarpio and San Pedro were both removed over the administrative case before the Office of the Ombudsman on March 23, 2017, but their situation was not a graft case but one that stemmed from criminal charges that they were facing.
The two former officials were linked to the alleged ambush of a certain engineer Rufino Gravador sometime in December 2015.
Both have been facing a frustrated-murder case, which has been pending before a Regional Trial Court branch in Quezon City.
In their administrative case, both San Pedro and Policarpio appealed the decision of the Ombudsman through their counsel.
On Aug. 5, 2020, the Court of Appeals Fourth Division, headed by Justice Celia Librea-Leagogo, issued an order directing both Policarpio and San Pedro to submit certified true copies of the March 23, 2017 decision and order, dated Jan. 18, 2018, from the Office of the Ombudsman.
The same order also directed the private complainant to file his opposition within 10 days while the two respondents were given five days to file their reply-affidavit upon receipt of the complainant’s comments.
“It’s very clear that we are not yet dismissed from the government service because the decision on our appeal was still pending before the CA, contrary to the statement of the President,” San Pedro said.
He added that he was a political supporter of President Duterte when San Pedro ran for reelection for mayor in 2016 under PDP-Laban, the political party that fielded Duterte as its candidate for the country’s top political post.
San Pedro said he is now the chairman of the People’s National Coalition, which, at present, is conducting a signature campaign to get 15 million signatures from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to convince Duterte to consider their proposal to shift from a parliamentary form of government to a federal one.