Council refers bribe try case to Ombud-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Thursday, September 27, 2012
COUNCILORS agreed Monday to refer to the Office of the Ombudsman the alleged bribery attempt of a tourism official to a councilor regarding the Athletic Bowl development.
City Tourism Officer Benedicto Alahambra allegedly attempted to bribe Councilor Edison Bilog to approve the Athletic Bowl term of reference.
Committee on ethics members Councilors Philian Weygan-Allan and Perlita Chan-Rondez have authored a resolution that was approved by the City Council Monday for the Office of the Ombudsman to determine if there is ground for filing of a corruption of public official charges against Alhambra.
This is separate from the case filed by Bilog against Alhambra in the Office of the City Prosecutor and the Civil Service Commission.
Weygan-Allan said they filed the resolution to refer the matter to the Ombudsman because the committee on ethics deems it proper to no longer conduct their own investigation as Bilog is a member of the committee.
Weygan-Allan and Chan-Rondez claimed they cannot investigate their fellow member.
In Bilog’s affidavit, he alleged Alhambra tried to set up a meeting with proponents of the Athletic Bowl development after the tourism officer allegedly said Bilog will have a “share” in the project.
But Alhambra denied this saying, “All accusations hurled against him by Bilog are untrue, baseless and just politicking to gain people’s sympathy and votes for the coming elections.”
He added that although he is for the development of the Athletic Bowl, he was only singled out to be associated with its supposed developers because he is close to the Korean community in his sister-city activities and because of his work as tourism officer.
The tourism officer said he will file counter charges against Bilog. He will also file a case for violations of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act against the local legislator.
Bilog meanwhile said the Council committee on ethics need not refer the matter to the Ombudsman saying this move might affect and result to the dismissal of the case he filed before the Office of the City Prosecutor.
He said it will be a sort of “forum shopping” but Councilor Erdolfo Balajadia dismissed Bilog’s statement and clarified approving the resolution would not affect any prior case filed.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 27, 2012.