THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas dismissed for being unmeritorious the criminal and administrative charges against Silay City Mayor Jose Montelibano, Vice-Mayor Mark Andrew Arthur Golez, and 28 others.

The charges filed against the Silay City officials were for violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act, technical malversation and falsification of public documents as well as the administrative charge of dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service.

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In the decision dated August 28, 2009 that was approved and signed by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni upon recommendation of Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas Pelagio Apostol, the Ombudsman found that no administrative liability can be imputed upon the respondents for the alleged acts.

 

Complainants Jose Lindy Chan and Jojo Sumiller alleged that within the period of December 2007 to February 2008, Mayor Montelibano signed and awarded contracts of service with monthly service fees ranging from P 14,000-P20,000 for a fixed period of six months in favor of fourteen individuals who were allegedly political supporters and relatives of the mayor.

 

Through these contracts, consultants were appointed in the various departments of the city, such as the Urban Development Planning and Management, Law Enforcement, Human Resource Management and Development, Training and Seminars, Sports, Barangay Affairs, Tourism and Culture, Patag Development, Development of Public Library, Youth Development, Cultural and Historical Restoration, Security Matters and Infrastructure, according to the complainants.

 

They stressed the alleged contracts of service did not undergo public bidding.

 

However, the Ombudsman cited the nature of the work of these consultants was highly technical or proprietary and action taken by the city was allowed under the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9184.

 

The Ombudsman decision further stated the failure to include the procurement of consultants in the Annual Procurement Plan and the non-posting of the said procurement in the appropriate government website is understandable.

Respondents might have mistaken the law to have excluded the requirements of the consultants with functions that are policy-determining and primarily confidential, making the procurement an exception to competitive bidding, the Ombudsman explained.

 

Aside from Montelibano and Golez, the other co-accused were Councilors Jose Raymundo Locsin, Michael Maravilla, Mario Torres, Ramon Jison, Warlito Go, Rosalinda Caja, ABC president Joedith Gallego, and SK president April Grace De los Reyes;

City Administrator Ignacio Salmingo, OIC – City Treasurer Elsie Jimenea, City Accountant Emmanuel Arsenal; Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Chairperson and City Legal Officer Atty. Kara Aimee Quevenco, BAC Members Pepito Hechanova, Alma De La Cruz, Ricardo Ledesma Jr, Engr. Sonia Cordero; Engr. Rene Roy Pahilanga, Head of BAC; Architect Giovanni Guzon; Jake Oppus, Arnie Trajera, Jose Genaro Estrañero, Macarse Tionko- Head of BAC Secretariat; Armin Paredes, Alore Golez, Wilma Dooma, among others. (Jerome S. Galunan Jr.)