Ombudsman suspends MisOr Capitol employee

THE office of the Ombudsman suspended an official of the Misamis Oriental Provincial Government for the neglect of duty in connection with the anomalous issuance of warrants of garnishment against a Japanese firm in Jasaan town in 2014.

Local Treasury Operations Officer IV and acting provincial accountant Marilou Rivera was suspended for one year after she was found guilty of the charges filed by Pilipinas Kao Inc. (PKI), a company that supplies high quality and biodegradable chemical products from coconut oil in both local and international markets.

Based on investigation by the Ombudsman, the Provincial Government had assessed the company's unpaid real property taxes for 11 years from 2002 to 2013 in the total amount of P631.5 million.

Procolo Olaivar, manager of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza), sent a letter on September 26, 2013, citing PKI's exemption from paying local taxes, including real property taxes since it is covered by the Special Economic Zone Act or the Republic Act (RA) 7916.

The Philippine government declared the whole plant site in the tow the town of Jasaan as an economic zone in 2001.

But, Rivera still issued a warrant of levy against PKI in October 2013 in the total amount of P244.7 million and issued warrants of garnishment in January 2014 against the firm's bank accounts to cover the P631.5 million assessment.

A legal procedure by which a creditor can collect what a debtor owes by reaching the debtor's property when it is in the hands of someone other than the debtor.

"Respondent's issuance of the warrant of garnishment against PKI's bank accounts appear to be improper," the Ombudsman said.

The Ombudsman also explained in its decision that "the records show that the Provincial Government of Misamis Oriental issued 152 warrants of levy on PKI's properties that were considered as delinquent that could have readily and sufficiently satisfied the purportedly unpaid real property taxes" as "PKI's industrial machinery alone had a market value of P2.9 billion."

"Hence, there was no need to freeze PKI's accounts and hamper its business operations," the decision added.

The Peza Director General Lilia De Lima mentioned in a letter to the office of the ombudsman on August 7, 2015, that "PKI is liable only for P164.1 million under RA 7916 and that said amount was already remitted to the Provincial Government."

Under the law, oppression is an act of excessive use of authority which has been defined as abuse of authority or misuse of one's authority in a wantonly and capriciously excessive or extravagant manner contrary to the natural or legal rules.

Neglect of duty, on the other hand, is the failure to act in a situation where there is duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally, with a conscious indifferent to consequences.

Rivera could not be reached for comment but, Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Emano said the Capitol will exhaust all legal remedies by running to the Court of Appeals (CA) or to the office of the ombudsman.

"Since she did it in line of her duty, the Capitol will exhaust all legal remedies para maabswelto siya sa kaso kay wala man siyay sala (for her to be absolve in the case since it's not her fault),"Emano said.

Emano said Rivera has done nothing wrong and is only doing her job in representing the local government of Jasaan to collect taxes from PKI.

"Unsa gyud abuse of authority nga igo lamang man nagkolekta sa buhis nga gituohan nga angayan (What abuse of authority [are they saying] when she [Rivera] only collected taxes which she believed rightful) ,"Emano said.
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