SP members in hot water over “persona non grata”

TAGBILARAN CITY – Seven of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) who are mostly allied with Gov. Edgar Chatto are facing charges for their declaration of lawyer Salvador Diputado as ‘persona non grata.’

Diputado filed a civil case against provincial board members Venzencio Arcamo, Kristine Alexie Tutor, Abeleon Damalerio, Ricky Masamayor, Elpidio Jala, Agapito Avenido and Romulo Cepedoza.

The charge sheet is docketed in civil case No. 8798 “for nullification of Resolution and Damages” subscribed and sworn to by lawyer Romulo Puagang, Clerk of Court VI, Regional Trial Court branch.

Diputado asked the court to invalidate the SP Resolution No. 2016-508, declaring him as persona non grata “for being ultra vires, invalid and illegal”

The said SP Resolution in question was based on the Committee of the Whole report No. 2016-15 dated September 7, 2016, Diputado said.

Diputado also asked the court to order the respondents (the SP members who signed the said committee report) to pay him Php2 million for moral damages; Php500,000 forexemplary damages; and Php20,000 for incidental cost.

The alleged illegal acts of the defendants caused him “sleepless nights, mental anxiety and untold social humiliation,” Diputado said in his complaint.

It will be recalled that Diputado floated as what SP called rumor the Php81 milion bank account allegedly owned by an unnamed Capitol official in an undisclosed bank in this city.

Diputado maintained that he has a source who reveal this bank account to him and that he would not reveal the identity of his source since the said information (on bank account) still has to be verified.

This prompted the SP to give attention on this bank account and conducted a series of committee meeting or hearings in past months until the said committee came up with the said Resolution declaring Diputado as persona non grata.

Sensing of what she perceived as misleading report of the said committee, ex-officio SP member as president of the Philippine councilors League (PCL) Bohol chapter Gloria Gementiza withdrew her signature to the committee report containing such declaration of Diputado.

Following the approval of the SP Resolution No. 2016-508, declaring Diputado as persona non grata, former governor Atty. Victor dela Serna took as swipe to the action of the provincial board, saying in radio interview that such declaration was improper.

He said the term persona non grata cannot be used against Diputado since it can only be applied to members of the diplomatic corp of other countries.

The host country where these diplomats are based cannot sue them since they are immune from suits so what the host country may do when offended is just declared them as persona non grata or “unwelcome.”

Dela Serna, touted as the main critic of Gov Chatto’s administration for alleged graft and corruption, said that the SP members, especially those who voted for the said Resolution are showing their ignorance.

Board Members Tomas Abapo, Jr., Jone Jade A. Bautista, Nino Rey F. Boniel, Dionisio Vitor A. Balite and Vice-Gov. Dionisio Balite did not affix their signature to the committee report containing the recommendation of persona non grata.

Those in the affirmative in the said committee report include, BMs Arcamo, Damalerio, Jala, Cepedoza, Masamayor, Tutor and Avenido. (rvo)

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