Ombud junks raps against 5 councilors, 5 others

FOR lack of probable cause, the anti-graft body dismissed the criminal and administrative complaints against 10 members of the previous Cebu City Council.

The complaints stemmed from the deferment of deliberations on the proposed first supplemental budget (SB-1) of the City for 2015.

Named respondents were Councilors Margarita Osmeña, Mary Ann Delos Santos, Sisinio Andales, Eugenio Gabuya Jr. and Alvin Arcilla, and former councilors Nestor Archival Sr., Lea Japson, Roberto Cabarrubias, Ma. Nida Cabrera and Alvin Dizon. All are members of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).

In a joint resolution, Maria Bernadeth Andal-Subaan, graft investigation and prosecution officer II, said complainants of the criminal case failed to establish that the respondents violated provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and the Local Government Code.

“In this case, complainants failed to establish that respondents were impelled by manifest partiality and evident bad faith in the performance of their official duties and functions. Neither did complainants establish that respondents acted with gross inexcusable negligence,” read a portion of the joint resolution.

The resolution was also signed and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Gratitude

Last Oct. 14, 2015, Rolando Zozobrado, Sofio Miral and Bernardo Tamundo filed the complaints against the officials.

A similar complaint against the same respondents was filed by Evelyn Montes last Dec. 29, 2015.

In their complaints, they alleged that the failure of council’s majority bloc to discuss the proposed additional budget was tainted with partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence.

The P2.8-billion proposed SB-1 included, among others, the P2.3 billion for the pre-payment of the outstanding balance of the South Road Properties (SRP) loan, P87 million for the garbage tipping fee and P77 million for City Hall employees’ productivity enhancement incentive.

The BOPK councilors suspended the deliberation of SB-1 since the identified source of funds of the budget came from the sale of the lots at the SRP.

Lawyer Romulo Torres filed a petition for declaratory relief, injunction with prayer for temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction against Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and other members of the Council.

Sought for comment, Osmeña and Andales were thankful that the ombudsman dismissed the complaints.

“Thank you,” Osmeña told reporters.

“I knew that the complaint will be dismissed for lack of legal basis because it is within the prerogative of the City Council either to approve or disapprove the SB-1,” Andales said.

Andales said that they will study the possibility of filing a damage suit against the complainants.

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