OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal of Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno and two other mayors in Mindanao due to various criminal and administrative charges.

In the resolution dated October 6, Morales found Moreno guilty of grave misconduct for entering into a settlement agreement with Ajinomoto Philippines without prior authorization from the City Council, a violation of the Local Government Code.

Morales said the agreement allowed Ajinomoto to pay P300,000 instead of its original local business tax deficiency of P2.9 million.

The Office of the Ombudsman ruled that the approval of the agreement by the court cannot, in any way, legitimize the acts of Moreno. Dismissed together with Moreno was Glenn Bañez, officer-in-charge of the Cagayan de Oro City Treasurer’s Office.

Morales also ordered the dismissal of Mayor Vicente Fernandez of Matanao, Davao del Sur, and Mayor Mamintal Adiong of Ditsa-an Ramain, Lanao del Sur.

Fernandez was found guilty of grave misconduct for discharging his functions as mayor even while in detention for ordering the murder of a journalist.

He was reportedly issuing office orders, business permits and appointments, and signing official documents, among others, despite inside his prison cell.

Adiong was found guilty of grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct and oppression for ordering the burning of a truck owned by JERA General Construction.

The firm was hired by the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc. (Lasureco) to install concrete electric posts and distribution lines in the municipality. Several witnesses positively identified Adiong as the one who gave the order to burn the vehicle.

Morales, who is in Russia for an anti-corruption summit, also recommended that the officials be perpetually disqualified to hold public office.

In a span of five years, among the 174 countries surveyed by Berlin-based Transparency International, the Philippines’ corruption perception ranking has improved by 54 notches, from 139th place in 2009 to 85th place in 2014.

Morales said they could not afford to lose the momentum and that challenges may still emerge.

She also drew the connection between economic development and the fight against corruption.

“The spirit of good governance and integrity which drives our community of nations will triumph over the forces of corruption that cause social inequities and economic disparities,” she said in a speech at the 6th conference of States Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Philippines signed the UNCAC on December 9, 2003 and ratified it on November 8, 2006. (Denisse Tan, UST intern/Sunnex)