By KIMBERLIE QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Cabanatuan City Municipal Trial Court Branch III Judge Nelson Largo is no longer welcome in the City of Pines after the city council passed Resolution 429 series of 2018 on November 18 declaring him persona non grata.
“Whereas, the glaring traffic violations and the inappropriate legal action of Judge Nelson Largo against Traffic Enforcer Bernard Batnag are affront to the law and to law abiding citizens, law enforcers and officials of the City of Baguio. Thus, the City Government of Baguio is therefore compelled to declare Judge Nelson Largo Persona Non Grata in the City of Baguio,” the resolution stated.
The city council found Largo’s actions “as grave abuse and misuse of contempt power.”
“Moreover, such action constitutes conduct unbecoming of a judge and cannot be countenance by the City Government and its constituents,” the resolution stated further.
The city’s action stemmed from the show-cause order issued by the magistrate on October 28, asking Bernard Batnag to explain why he should not be charged with contempt. The judge argued that the confiscation of his plate “caused delay in the scheduled hearings.”
On October 25, Batnag, who is the head of traffic enforcement in the public market, along with other enforcers, gave the judge a ticket and took his car’s plate number for two violations. Besides violating the number-coding scheme, the court official also parked his vehicle illegally in a jeepney terminal along Kayang Street.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said he requested for the passage of the resolution. He also formally asked the Supreme Court to investigate the matter.
“It is about time that we have to show him that he has to suffer the consequences for his mistake. You have to suffer the consequences for disrespecting the people of Baguio,” the mayor said in mixed English and Filipino. The media asked him on the issue while attending a press conference for the city’s Christmas activities.
Meanwhile, Councilor Arthur Allad-iw underscored that public servants should always set an example to the public that no one is above the law.
According to him, Largo being a court judge should be among those who should uphold the law at all times. He added that arrogance has no place in public service.
After the news broke, the Office of the Court Administrator ordered Largo to comment on the news reports. The Supreme Court also held the subpoena against Batnag and his men in abeyance.
Largo signed an order on November 18, withdrawing the subpoena he issued in October.
“The end of justice having been sufficiently met, the order dated Oct 28, setting the proceeding for hearing on Nov 29, is hereby lifted and set aside,” the order read.
Despite having the same view on the Largo’s action, the city’s top two officials seem to have different perspectives on how to deal with the judge as an “unwanted individual.”
Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan explained the resolution does not prohibit the assailed magistrate from physically entering the city.
“It’s just that he is not welcome in Baguio,” he said.
According to Olowan, the city council has declared a comedian/actress persona non grata before after her unacceptable statement about Igorots. He recalled that officials allowed her to return to the city after she apologized.
He noted that the High Court’s action showed that Largo’s issuing a subpoena against the enforcers was questionable.
“Unless he accepts what he did is wrong and be humble enough to come to apologize to the people of Baguio, he will remain unwelcome here,” the vice mayor said.
However, Magalong is firm that Largo should not be allowed to stay in the city even if he apologizes.
“A hindi. Binastos tayo e. So nararapat lang na ganun din ang treatment natin sa kanya. Pero huwag kang maglala hindi po naming kayo mumurahin (No. He disrespected us, so our treatment of him is only appropriate. But he has no reason to worry because we will not throw him expletive),” Magalong told reporters.
Magalong reiterated that the judge is prohibited from coming to the city. He said that he would ask hotels and restaurants in the city not to accommodate Largo.
“Sabihan na lang siya na umalis na lang at maiwan na lang ang kanyang pamilya (Just tell him to leave but his family can stay),” Magalong said.
He also told the media that Largo asked for dialogue. However, the mayor said he is not keen on having it with the judge.
“Yung dialogue, paano siya makapunta dito kung persona non grata na siya (About the dialogue, how can he come here when he is already persona non grata),” he said.
“Lessons learned na lang po judge, lessons learned na lang po sa inyo na dapat kayong magpakumbaba. Huwag po kayong arogante kahit saan hindi lang po sa Baguio sana po lessons learned na yan sa inyo (The judge should consider this as a lessons learned that he should be humble. Do not be arrogant in any place, not only in Baguio),” Magalong said. # nordis.net