Ombud rules: officer only doing his job

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014


THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas has cleared a security officer of the Cebu Provincial Government of allegations that he and his team illegally apprehended a businessman’s dump truck.

Michael Mernado, Jr., graft investigation and prosecution officer, dismissed for lack of evidence the graft and oppression charges against Loy Anthony Madrigal, the Capitol’s civil security unit officer.

“Clearly, the presumption of regularity in the performance of duty was not overturned,” read Mernado’s joint resolution, which was approved by Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol.

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The case stemmed from the criminal and administrative charges filed by businessman Salipada Cerna, who accused Madrigal of illegally apprehending his truck on Oct.3, 2013 in Toledo City.

Cerna is into the hauling of sand and gravel. He said a group of five armed men, reportedly headed by Madrigal, removed the front and rear plate of his Isuzu truck, saying it has no hauling permit.

Cerna said his driver and a helper witnessed the incident.

Cerna later found out that his truck was impounded by the Capitol security officers.

He went to the Provincial Legal Office to complain and an investigation was conducted.

His truck was later recommended for release by Capitol lawyer Donato Villa, Jr., who said the vehicle was not loaded with sand when it was seized.

Cerna said Madrigal’s acts and that of his group were “unwarranted” and caused him “undue prejudice and damage.”

Madrigal, in his counter-affidavit, said the seizure of Cerna’s truck was done “in the regular course of operation.”

A team from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office went to Barangay Magdugo, Toledo City after receiving reports of rampant illegal extraction and hauling of sand and gravel going on in the area for a long time.

Madrigal said they saw a backhoe loading sand and gravel on a dump truck while two other trucks were waiting in line, one of which was Cerna’s Isuzu dump truck.

When Cerna’s driver and a helper saw them, they fled and abandoned the truck.

The drivers of the two other dump trucks were also issued temporary seizure receipts after their trucks were impounded. They were made to pay fines for hauling sand without permit.

Madrigal also denied he and his team carried firearms during the operation.

In the resolution, graft investigator Mernado said there was no proof showing that Madrigal caused injury to Cerna, nor to the government.

Mernado said Cerna’s dump truck was not singled out.

Two other trucks waiting to be loaded were also issued temporary seizure receipts for hauling sand and gravel without permit from the Provincial Government.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 13, 2014.

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