THE Ombudsman Visayas dismissed criminal and administrative complaints filed against the Bacolod City officials relative to the purchase of the 7-hectare dumpsite in Barangay Felisa, Bacolod City.  

 

The administrative complaint for grave misconduct and acts prejudicial to public service and the criminal complaint for violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019, otherwise known as Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, were filed by Sarah Teresa S. Esguerra and Othello S. Ramos. 

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Named respondents in the complaints were Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia, Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, Councilors Greg Gasataya, Homer Bais, Dindo Ramos, Wilson Gamboa, Al Victor Espino, Napoleon Cordova, Roberto Rojas, Alex Paglomutan, Reynold Iledan, Diosdado Valenzuela, former City Legal Officer Atty. Allan Zamora, former City Assessor Maphilindo Polvora, and City Treasurer Annabelle Badajos. 

The complainants alleged that the respondents conspired together in offering and conferring to Dynasty Agricultural Corporation (DAC) unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference by buying its lots for Solid Waste Disposal Facility on July 25, 2008 through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. 

 

They further claimed that the property was bought at an exorbitant and excessive price. 

Graft Investigation & Prosecution Officer Edsel M. Ensomo, Acting Director, EIC Samuel S. Malazarte, Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio S. Apostol and Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark E. Jalandoni issued a decision dated September 10, 2009, dismissing the said complaints. 

For his part, Mayor Leonardia said that the dismissal of the complaints confirmed that the real motive behind the action was simply black propaganda, citing that the complaints were a concoction of lies, half truths and misleading facts, which were not even supported with documents. 

The decision stated that there was no substantial evidence to hold the respondents guilty of the administrative offense and that there was no reasonable ground to believe that respondents violated Section 3 (e) of RA 3019, as amended.

 

The subject property was purchased by the city for P23.8 million or at P340.00 per square meter from DAC to be utilized as the city’s solid waste disposal facility or dump site. 

The Ombudsman further states that the said purchase was brought about by the need of the city to have another dumpsite after the dumpsite in Brgy. Mandalagan was closed sometime in 2005.

Thus, the respondents' action was not brought about by ill or selfish motives but by the urgency of the situation, in order to protect the health and general welfare of the residents of Bacolod City, according to the graft body’s decision.  

 

The Ombudsman added that the respondents have shown that the purchase was authorized, that the supporting documents appeared to be complete and proper, and that respondents’ actions were in order and were done in good faith. 

 

As to the criminal complaint, the Ombudsman said that they are convinced that the respondents have exercised all the necessary prudence, negating bad faith, to ensure that the proper procedure and selection process was complied with in the purchase of the 70,000 square meter piece of land. (Carla N. Cañet)