THE Bacolod City Legal Office (CLO) will seek the opinion of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to determine the release of back wages and reinstatement of the eight city executives.
This, after the Court of Appeals-Visayas Station in Cebu City denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against them and Mayor Evelio Leonardia.
City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan said yesterday that he met with the eight, including lawyer Goldwyn Nifras, Luzviminda Treyes, Nelson Sedillo Sr., Belly Aguillon, Aladino Agbones, Jaries Ebenizer Encabo, Melvin Recabar, and Eduardo Ravena on Thursday.
On November 28, 2017, the CA denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Leonardia and eight city executives for lack of merit.
The case involved the alleged anomalous procurement of furniture and fixtures for the Bacolod Government Center worth almost P50 million in 2008.
On September 6, 2017, the CA reversed the dismissal order against Leonardia, Nifras, Treyes Sedillo Sr., Aguillon, Agbones, Encabo, Recabar, and Ravena.
“The best move by now is to seek the opinion of the CSC because there are matters in the decision of the Court of Appeals that suggest that there is a possibility that we may be able to provide them the back wages and to reinstate them,” Bayatan said.
“Based on the jurisprudence, there is the assurance of their back wages and reinstatement because there was the exoneration of these employees. But on the matter of the procedure on how and what is the proper time, we have to seek the opinion of the CSC,” he added.
The CA order stated that after a meticulous review of the records, the Court find that aside from raising the failure to exhaust administrative remedies and questioning the backwages awarded to petitioners Ravena and Recabar, all other issues and arguments laid down by public respondents are basically mere rehash of those that it has judiciously scrutinized and exhaustedly discussed at length by its September 6 decision.
Thus, public respondents failed to assert any new and substantial matter that would invalidate this Court's findings, it added.
Indubitably, there is no ground to hold petitioners Leonardia, Nifras, Treyes, Sedillo, Aguillon, Agbones and Encabo administratively liable for the offense charged, the order stated.
The CA found that petitioner Ravena and Recabar should only be held administratively liable for simple misconduct and not for grave misconduct stands, it also said.
Bayatan said they will further evaluate the court’s decision on Ravena and Recabar although the penalty was reduced from grave misconduct to simple misconduct.
The issue here is whether the reduction of the penalty was a change or was a mistake that laid charges against them, he added.
He further said there is a possibility that the charge is the same only that the penalty was reduced or there is a possibility that the penalty was reduced because if they were wrongly charged, it would have been a different violation.
“This is the clarification that we need to know,” he added.
Bayatan noted that the Ombudsman could still go to the Supreme Court for the petition of the review, but as of now they do not have the petition yet.
It is an administrative case only and they also filed for the dismissal of the criminal case before the Sandiganbayan, he added.
Published in the SunStar Bacolod newspaper on January 13, 2018.
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