Ombuds junks graft case vs Baguio execs-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Thursday, October 24, 2013
THE Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon dismissed the corruption and grave misconduct charges filed by a trade fair organizer against 14 elected Baguio City officials, which included Mayor Mauricio Domogan and Representative Nicasio Aliping.
The complaint filed by Abdulmajid Macre was dismissed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Gil Felix Hidalgo in a joint resolution last June 13. However, the official copy only recently arrived at City Hall.
Among those previously charged were Domogan, Aliping (then a City Councilor), Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas, former and incumbent Councilors Isableo Cosalan Jr., Elmer Datuin, Peter Fianza, Edison Bilog, Richard Cariño, Perlita Chan-Rondez, Fred Bagbagen, Erdolfo Balajadia, NIcasio Palaganas, Joel ALangsab and AZCKO punong barangay Vicente Pinlac.
The case stemmed from the tiangge organizer who alleged officials asked for money in exchange for approving a trade fair conducted at the Igorot Park.
However, the Ombudsman for Luzon found lack of merit on pieces of evidence presented by the complainant against the government officials.
In his counter affidavit, Pinlac said they passed a resolution to conduct a trade fair without any intervention or consideration. He said it was the complainant who proposed to put up a trade fair at the Igorot Park. The village official stressed they also informed the complainant of the prohibition of trade fairs in the park due to an existing ordinance.
Councilor Peter Fianza in his counter affidavit also stressed his inclusion to the case was a mistake as his name was not even among those alleged to have received money and abstained from voting on the resolution mindful of the legal prohibition on the conduct of trade fairs in parks.
Other councilors also maintained the passage of the resolution in the City Council underwent through regular legislative processes.
Domogan also said he disapproved the resolution on the trade fair. The mayor also denied City Social Welfare and Development Officer Betty Fangasan is his relative adding he did not unduly favor her to conduct a trade fair.
The mayor stressed the Productivity and Livelihood Fair last year was organized by OCSWADO as part of the Self Employment Assistance Program, a City Government activity, and was held at Juan Luna Drive and not the Igorot Park.
"Complainant failed to substantiate by sufficient evidence his allegation that respondents requested or received money from him or any person in whatever capacity for whatever purpose. His own affidavit, the unsworn affidavit of his business associate, and the unsigned list of purported recipents of 'bribe money' are self-serving evidence which negate credence and have no weight in law," the decision stated.
Meanwhile, Domogan said he is mulling to press charges against the tiangge organizer. However, the lack of an address of the complainant has hampered his plans.
The mayor added the complainant attempted to bribe him with P300,00 to approve the trade fair but he immediately dismissed this saying he will report the complainant to the police.
The trade fair organizer begged him not to report the incident and left his office which according to the city mayor was the last time he saw the complainant.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 25, 2013.