Ombud junks raps vs Leonardia, 2 others

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Monday, March 10, 2014


THE Office of the Ombudsman has cleared former mayor and now Representative Evelio Leonardia and his former city legal officer Joselito Bayatan and enforcement unit head Cesar Beloria Jr. from the criminal and administrative cases filed against them in relation to the demolition of houses and structures in Barangay 7.

The complaints were filed by village chief Bernabe Sibug and several others after the City Government demolished their houses that encroached on public roads.

Sibug accused the three of violation of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), usurpation of legislative powers, usurpation of judicial functions, grave misconduct and oppression.

The case involves the clearing of 14th, 15th and 16th streets of illegal structures to give way to free public access and to ease traffic along Lacson Street and B.S. Aquino Drive.

The Ombudsman approved the Evaluator’s Report dated January 7, which approved the memorandum dated April 25, 2013 of Graft Investigating Officer II Amy Rose Solerrellin, which stated that “(a)fter judicious consideration of the complaint and the evidence on record, a dismissal of the instant criminal and administrative cases is in order, for lack of jurisdiction.”

In his notice dated January 7, Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol recommended that the criminal and administrative cases be re-evaluated.

“Accordingly, the preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication for the charges of violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019 against Leonardia, Bayatan and Beloria are closed and terminated.”

Bayatan recalled that when he issued an order to clear the roads of houses constructed in the middle of 14th, 15th and 16th streets, the affected residents filed a case against him, Leonardia, and the city in court.

When the case was eventually dismissed by the Regional Trial Court Branch 49, the residents did not further appeal it so their houses were removed, he said.

But there was an issue raised that the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over the case because it is clear that the RTC has taken jurisdiction over the complaint filed by Sibug, Bayatan said.

“So by inference, while the Ombudsman cannot anymore take jurisdiction of the case by its dismissal by the court, the re-evaluation is to determine with regards to the update of the case,” Bayatan said.

He added that he believes the Ombudsman may yet want to know if the decision had already been final and executory by the dismissal of the case of the illegal occupants after they no longer appealed it.” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 10, 2014.

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