TACLOBAN CITY – Following the recent dismissal of the office of the Ombudsman of the charges of grave abuse of authority or oppression against Mayor Jose Arturo Suan of Allen, Northern Samar, the official has finally returned to work after more than three months.

Suan has been earlier meted with a six-month suspension without pay. He officially received the suspension order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Northern Samar, on January 12, 2024. The case stemmed from his alleged illegal construction of a road project without the appropriate expropriation proceedings and the demolition of the concrete fence built by the owner who opposed said project on her property.

Mayor Suan filed a motion for reconsideration to reverse the said order from the Office of the Ombudsman. In its dismissal order, the Ombudsman pointed out that there is no probable cause to indict Suan for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019, stating that “after a cautious and judicious examination of the instant case, this Office finds that there is no substantial evidence to warrant the imposition of administrative sanction against the respondent-movant for Grave Abuse of Authority or Oppression.”

“The basic rule is that mere allegation is not evidence and is not equivalent to proof. Charges based on mere suspicion and speculation likewise cannot be given credence. When the complainant relies on mere conjectures and suppositions and fails to substantiate his allegations, the complaint must be dismissed for lack of merit,” the reversal order read. 

With Suan’s suspension, Vice Mayor Christian Lao temporarily assumed the role of chief executive while Sangguniang Bayan Member Ronnel Cajandab acted as the presiding officer of the SB.

“Our detractors may hurl countless lies in an attempt to bring me down, but as always, the adage holds true: ‘The truth shall set us free,’” the mayor said. He added that the recent decision of the Office of the Ombudsman reaffirms his commitment to consistently stand in favor of the people by dismantling oppressive barriers—like the divisive “fence”—aimed at subjugating the poor. “I choose to move forward, perhaps this is a divine nudge for me to pause, reflect on my responses to adversity, and emerge stronger from these trials. I trust that I have met these challenges with integrity and grace,” the mayor concluded. By Marie Tonette Marticio (EV Mail April 29-May 5, 2024 issue)