Issue of April 8, 2018

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Zoning official of La Trinidad slapped with admin charge
by Ofelia C. Empian

An administrative case was filed against the zoning officer of La Trinidad, Benguet for his inaction on excavation permit applications filed by concerned individuals.

The complaint against Engr. Emerson Tabernero for alleged grave misconduct, dishonesty, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and violation of Sections 4 and 7 of the Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees was received by the Civil Service Commission on April 2.

Complainant, Coun. Nestor Fongwan Jr., alleged that it takes a long time for Tabernero to act upon the permits being processed in his office when the latter is responsible for the implementation of the provisions of the municipality’s zoning ordinance on excavation and earthmoving.

“The processing of these permits remains unacted upon for a prolonged period of time to the damage and prejudice of the concerned individuals,” Fongwan’s complaint read.

Fongwan also alleged in his complaint that Tabernero “solicits money, expressly and impliedly, from applicants of excavation permits saying that the same is needed to facilitate the processing of the permits or that the money is to be used for expenses necessary to obtain some documents required for the issuance of the permit.”

“The money asked is clearly excessive compared to the cost of the alleged documents needed for the processing and the documents that are allegedly pre-requisite to the request of the permit are never specified for the guidance and reference of the requesters,” Fongwan said in his complaint.

Various complainants fear to come forward and swear to be witnesses against him because many of these complainants work closely with constructions” that have pending requests, for fear that their requests for excavation and/or building permits be denied or further delayed.

Fongwan alleged that Tabernero also used his name “as an excuse for the delay of the processing of the excavation permits, and as a design to realize his deceptive ways of obtaining pecuniary interest, and to easily impose his will over the concerned requesters.”

“Clearly, the aforementioned acts are never welcomed in the realm of public service which require integrity and justness, at the very least, and such acts constitute conduct unbecoming of a civil servant, and are patent disregard and violation of the provisions of Sections 4 and 7 of RA 6713.”

Sec. 4 states the norms of conduct of public officials and employees to be observed by public servants while Sec. 7 states the prohibited acts and transactions of any public official or employee such as not having any financial and material interest in any transaction requiring approval of their office. 

One of Tabernero’s clients, James Benos, filed an affidavit on the same date before the CSC.

He stated that Engr. Jun Palan, the person he contacted to process the permit, submitted the documents needed for the application of an excavation permit in June 2017 for the construction of his building at Longlong, Puguis, La Trinidad.

In October 2017, the documents was returned to Palan “without any further instructions or comments as to what needs to be done or to be complied with.”

“In between the submission of the documents for the needed permit in June 2017 and the return thereof in October 2017, Tabernero has allegedly asked for an amount for the processing of topographical profile sketch of the parcel of land. The subject of the complaint received P10,000, but no topographical profile sketch was ever processed nor shown afterwards,” reads the complaint by Benos.

He said they never undertook the excavation in his lot pending the processing of their permit in Tabernero’s office.

“On top of that, I was notified more than once to comply with the requirement of obtaining excavation permit even though I have coordinated with Engr. Tabernero for the issuance thereof, but the delay was never consciously done on my part,” the complaint added.

Due to this, he had recently sought the help of Puguis Punong Barangay Sonny Balanoy, who referred him to Fongwan in obtaining the excavation permit.

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