CA issues 60-day TRO on dismissal of Ecija governor Umali

Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali will keep his seat for now, as the Court of Appeals (CA) issued a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) against the belated enforcement of the Ombudsman’s 3-year old dismissing him from public service.

In a recent 3-page resolution, the CA 7th Division restrained the Ombudsman and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) from enforcing the former’s November 14, 2016 decision that perpetually disqualified Umali from public office.

The CA noted Umali’s petition against the implementation of the Ombudsman decision “presented several questions of law that are still of unprecedented and novel import.”

The court also cited the necessity to “preserve the status quo, that is, to
recognize his election to office,” while the merits of the case were being resolved.

This was in order to “protect the electorate of the Province of Nueva Ecija and the petitioner [Umali] from any grave or irreparable injury” that may arise from the enforcement of his dismissal.

The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas, Jr.

The Ombudsman found Umali guilty of the administrative offense of grave misconduct for diverting his P15-million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to the ghost projects of two unqualified foundations when he was the representative of the province’s 3rd district in 2005.

When the administrative ruling was handed down, Umali did not hold a government position. Despite his disqualification from public office, he ran and won during the May 2019 gubernatorial elections.

Curiously, the DILG only set out to implement the Ombudsman’s order when the government watchdog issued a regional advisory mandating that dismissed officials serve the penalty even after they were elected in May.

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