WITH the new leadership, changes are expected to be instituted at the city prosecutor’s office.

Newly installed city prosecutor Macaurog Maunting assured the public of reforms in the city prosecutor’s office.

“As the officer-in-charge of the CPO, my task is to improve its image [through] the deposition of cases filed with this office and [to address] graft and corruption,” Maunting told Sun*Star Cagayan de Oro in an interview Thursday morning.

Maunting said under his watch he will not also tolerate the so-called “fixers” believed to be operating inside the CPO.

Although he did not know of any fixer operating in the CPO, Maunting only heard of talks circulating inside the Hall of Justice that there are people who act as go-betweens for defendants.

“There were rumors that there are some fixers, [although] I have no personal knowledge who these people are,” he said.

Sources at the Hall of Justice said these fixers usually go to the prosecutors and negotiate on behalf of an accused person, for a certain amount.

When he officially assumed as the OIC, Maunting said he had a poster saying “No fixers allowed” put up outside the CPO “to deter future irregularities.”

When he met with the prosecutors and staff of the CPO he told them of his plans, and they were willing to the reforms he proposed.

Maunting said his appointment as the officer-in-charge of the CPO, which came from Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary Leila De Lima, took effect last May 29, 2014.

Macauyag's suspension

In a document, dated April 22, 2014 and signed by De Lima, it was learned that Maunting’s new designation came when the DOJ ordered the 90-day suspension of prosecutor Fidel Macauyag, who served as the city prosecutor before Maunting took over.

According to the DOJ document that this paper got on Thursday morning, Macauyag was facing administrative offense for “insubordination and violation of reasonable office rules and regulations.”

The charge stemmed from a complaint of estafa, docketed as NPS No. X-06-INV-13A-0325, that Macauyag assigned to an assistant city prosecutor instead of submitting it to the DOJ’s panel of prosecutors, “well knowing that such act violates the directive and guidelines laid out in D.O. No. 963 and Memorandum Order No. 003, both dated November 14, 2012.”

The order, the document said, directed “all local prosecution offices to forward all complaints and pleadings to the Special Panel of Prosecutors in Manila tasked to handles all preliminary investigation and prosecution of the pyramid scam perpetrated by AMAN Future Group Philippines, Inc., the Rasuman Group, and similar cases by other corporations and/or individuals in Mindanao.”

In his written reply, dated May 28, 2014, Macauyag explained he was not aware that that particular complaint was about a financial scam as it was not marked as such, and that had he known about it, he would not have hesitated to submit it directly to the DOJ.

Macauyag said: “No designation of the offense is stated and the name of the known authors of the recent business scams are not also stated as parties therein, such as AMAN Futures, Manuel Amalilio and Coco Rasuman. Thus, the undersigned could not have known the authors of the recent business scam without evaluating first the affidavit complaint.”

Macauyag reasoned that as the city prosecutor, he did not have the time to evaluate all the complaints that land on his desk since it is the job of the assistant city prosecutors.

“For the undersigned (Macauyag) to do such evaluation would consume all his time in office considering that there are thousands of cases being filed with his office every year. In fact, there were more than 8,000 cases filed with his office in 2013 alone,” he added.

He also requested for the DOJ’s Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) to inhibit from investigating the charges against him since the 90-day suspension that the unit recommended is “excessive, arbitrary and contrary to provision of Sec. 51 of E.O. No. 292.”

Section 51 of the Executive Order 292 states that “preventive suspension shall be imposed only on offenses for Dishonesty, Oppression and Grave Misconduct and other offenses for which the penalty of dismissal shall be imposed. This is also the mandate of Part III, Section 12 of the Codes of Conduct of the Prosecution Service.”

However, Macauyag added that “the penalty for insubordination for which the undersigned is charged is 1 month and 1 day to 6 months under E.O. No. 292, or reprimand only for first time offenders according to litany of cases.”

In his text message sent to this paper Thursday afternoon, Macauyag said, referring to the suspension order: “If I don’t return, it’s my fate. The conspirators succeeded. At least I served Cagayan de Oro with competence, honesty and professionally and have instituted reforms in office during my stint as CP (city prosecutor) for almost seven years.”

“I’m tired also. The job is tough,” he said, adding “I love Cagayan de Oro and my people in office. But circumstances sometimes drive you to leave from where you are best fitted. I hope my replacement will surpass the good things I have done in office.”