Ombud junks ukay-ukay case vs Puentevella but indicts son

THE Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the criminal charges for graft and corruption related to the ukay-ukay (used clothing) issue filed against former Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella and Kasadya Bacolod Foundation Inc. (KBFI) president Rhoderick Samonte.

Puentevella’s son, Rocky, however, was indicted for the said offense.

The case stemmed from the administrative and criminal complaint filed by former Councilor Carl Lopez against the three after Marife Fernandez, organizer of the sale of used clothing at the Bacolod public plaza in April 2014, resurfaced after a year and implicated the former mayor and his son.

The three were charged for violation of Section R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and violation of R.A. 6713 or the violation of Code of Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees, and for grave misconduct.

In a decision dated September 27, 2016 signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, copies of which were furnished by Lopez to reporters Monday, the anti-graft court cited the negligence or failure of the elder Puentevella, as city mayor at that time to immediately stop the illegal operations of ukay-ukay at the public plaza, “does not amount to gross and inexcusable to warrant his indictment for violation of Section of RA 3019. At most, such negligence would only result to administrative liability.”

The Ombudsman said there was no evidence submitted that would show the elder Puentevella benefited from the payment made by the ukay-ukay vendors for them to be able to sell at the plaza.

It also said the use of the receipts of KBFI alone does not suffice to warrant Samonte’s indictment for any of the offenses charged.

There was no evidence that would establish that Samonte was aware and that he conspired with the younger Puentevella in consummating the questioned transactions, the anti-graft court added.

As for the younger Puentevella’s indictment, the Ombudsman finds probable cause for his violation of RA 3019 and Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code because the element of direct bribery are all present in his undertakings.

It was shown that Rocky, as a public officer, had demanded and received payment from the vendors for them to operate a market at the plaza even if without an authority from the Sangguniang Panlungsod, the Ombudsman said.

The ukay-ukay vendors were given unwarranted benefits and advantage when they were able to sell at the place without the required permit or license from the City Council, it added.

He (Rocky) acted in bad faith since he made it appear that he has such authority to allow the market operation when in fact he did not, it also said.

Meanwhile, the affidavit of recantation of Wilnor de la Torre, a reported former “personal secretary/staff” of the younger Puentevella and supposed affidavit of desistance of Fernandez are unworthy of credence.

De la Torre was earlier considered the second witness on the ukay-ukay case after he revealed that he was the one who “personally attended” to Fernandez when the latter made the following payments, P100,000 on December 16, 2013; P150,000 on January 16, 2014; and another P150,000 on April 3, 2014, to the younger
Puentevella and the KBFI.

However, he made changes in his affidavit of recantation and clarified that it was not his affidavit, but were all fabricated and supplied to him through intimidation and force, and against his will.

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