Former Makati City mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr. on Thursday asked city government officials and community leaders to “stop bickering” and instead “unite for the common good and welfare of city residents.”
Peña also urged “unscrupulous groups and individuals” to stop the mudslinging at him in the city’s barangays. He said the people of Makati “know him well, and (are) totally appreciative of the programs and projects they implemented” during the time of “Bagong Makati,” the slogan he used for his tenure before losing in the last May elections to incumbent Abigail Binay.
“I feel sorry for some persons who are trying to ride on my popularity to bankroll their ambition in Makati. Sadly, the outpour of support we’re receiving in our weekly ‘Kamustahan, Intindihan at Damayan’ shows otherwise,” Peña said.
The former mayor made these statements a day after the city government asked the Commission on Election to file a case against him for allegedly violating the election ban on appointments, promotions and transfers of personnel.
Peña served Makati for more than a year as acting mayor after Jejomar Erwin Binay was dismissed as mayor for his involvement in the alleged overpriced City Hall Building III. At that point, he had served as vice mayor for two terms, but admitted he was not a Binay ally.
“The people of Makati know who are really posturing, in contrast to a true-blue public servant,” he said. “I humbly call on them to stop political bickering at this point of time. Instead, let us join hands in reaching out to the grassroots to extend help and assistance to the disadvantaged and indigents.”
Peña assured his supporters that he won’t get distracted by what he described as “petty issues and rumor mongering.”
“I am opening my door and lines of communications to the incumbent if they feel they need my assistance to propel the city,” he said.
Peña said he is unfazed by threats and charges against him “to malign his name and vilify the Bagong Makati Governance,” which, he claimed, posted “remarkable performance” during its 11-month tenure.
The complaints cited by the Makati City government “are the same issues that he already clarified,” he added.
“Once more, the Personnel Selection Board of the city government had acted in good faith thru proper screening and deliberation of promoted and regularized personnel. All officers-in-charge and department heads appeared before the PSB to defend their recommendations, which include traffic aides and street sweepers, who have been in the city government’s roster for 25 years as casual employees,” Peña said.
“It is only during the regime of Bagong Makati when they were given regular plantilla positions. Hiring of personnel at the law department and Makati DRRMO as I remember, was granted exemption from the Comelec ban.”
He also said allegations of ghost employees were also cleared when displaced personnel lined up last December in getting their 13th month pay and other privileges.
“As for the extended contracts, it was done in good faith and have fully complied with the existing rules and regulations of the procurement law. It is clearly stated that one-year extension is allowed, as long as a notice has been submitted to the government procurement and policy board,” Peña said.
In a letter to Comelec Law Department head Norina Tangaro-Casingal, the city government said the personnel movements made by Peña were done without prior authority from the poll body.
“Thus, we are of the firm opinion that Peña’s actions constitute Election Offense under Article XXII, Section 261, par.(h) of the Omnibus Election Code,” lawyer Michael Arthur Camiña, head of the Makati Legal Department, said.
“Accordingly, we request your assistance on the matter, and trust that you will file the necessary actions to sanction Peña’s disregard of the law,” Camiña added.
The letter, dated February 15, was received by the Comelec last February 22.
If found guilty, Peña faces imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years, and shall not be subject to probation. In addition, he faces disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage.
The provision prohibits any transfer of personnel to a different designation, office, or agency, made by any head and/or appointing authority during the election period without any prior authority from the Comelec.
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