For pushing through with the election for the officers of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) in spite of the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO), Vice Gov. Concepcion Lim was sentenced to imprisonment for five days and to pay a P20,000 fine. In a 12-page decision, Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Suceso Arcamo also meted out a fine of P5,000 each to five other Liga ng mga Barangay officials namely Dr. Romulo Cepedoza, now a provincial board member for the second district, Arlene Caadlawon, Romeo Labor, Elenito Llorente and Rolando Ibale. Sought for her reaction yesterday regarding the penalty she earned for ignoring a TRO, V-Gov. Concepcion Lim said she was in Cebu and no way will she be able to make any comment pending receipt of the official copy of the decision. The lady vice governor said she reserved the right to comment until she gets home to face the consequence of her official act. Lim is in Cebu to attend as one of the sponsors of the wedding of the daughter of Loay Mayor Rosemarie Lim-Imboy. She is expected to be back here this afternoon.
OTHER RESPONDENTS CLEARED
The court exonerated respondents Director Pedro Noval Jr., Department of Interior and Local Government regional director, provincial election officer Elenito Llorente and provincial secretary Bonifacio Quirog but advised them “to be more circumspect and cautious in their participation in election activities particularly those outside the scope of their regular duties.” Arcamo, presiding judge of RTC Branch 47 based in Tagbilaran City , earlier issued a TRO based on the petition filed by Tagbilaran ABC president Faro Cabalit who questioned the holding of the ABC election on June 19. In spite of the issuance of the TRO, the elections pushed through as scheduled at Hotel La Roca. “Stung, aggrieved and insulted by the utter defiance of a lawful order,” Arcamo initiated the contempt proceedings. The judge said that in order to arrive at the ruling, three main issues needed to be resolved: whether or not the TRO issued by the court was duly served on the Liga officers, whether or not the explanations given by the respondent Liga officers are sufficient and convincing enough to exonerate them from the charge of indirect contempt, and whether or not the participation of other respondents who composed the board of election supervisors who were not Liga officers were sufficient to consider them to have acted in conspiracy with the officers. On the first issue, Arcamo said the issue is not difficult to resolve since Lim has not denied having been served the TRO and the summons by the sheriff.
In her written explanation, Lim declared that since the TRO together with the summons and the copy of the petition were served at the Liga office at the second floor of the Capitol building past 4 pm on June 18, she said she could not accept the TRO since she was “not the proper person” to do it. Lim also categorically stated in open court that she ordered her legislative staff assistant Rex Romani Tocmo to read aloud the contents of the TRO which prompted her to call some lawyers and other persons for advice and was subsequently advised not to receive it since she was supposedly already a private citizen at the time. She claimed that she already tendered her irrevocable resignation as Bohol Liga president earlier that day. Arcamo said that assuming that Lim refused to receive and sign the TRO and summons, this does not alter the fact that it was already served upon her person since she admitted ordering Tocmo to read aloud the contents. The judge said there appeared to be a pattern to “intentionally defy and disregard” the TRO.
“Like a script written for the movies, it includes the alleged resignation of (Lim) just before the TRO was served, her denial that she authorized (Tocmo) to receive the TRO, her late arrival at the venue and supposedly entering only when the election was concluded, the late arrival of (Tocmo) due to traffic problems, the act of (Cepedoza) to rudely stop (Cabalit) by telling him he was not the proper person to serve the TRO,” the judge pointed out. Arcamo also had harsh words for Cepedoza, who like Lim, claimed he was already a private citizen at the time but who was the one who interrupted Cabalit when he started to inform the body of the existence of a TRO. The order said that if this were in the movies, Cepedoza might have been “the hero to the eventual heroine who would win the election.” “Unfortunately, this was the real world and Dr. Cepedoza shamelessly and arrogantly disregarded a lawful order like it was a mere scrap of paper,” the judge pointed out.