Monday July 23, 2018

Mayor: Dismissal of graft charges ‘an answered prayer’

BACOLOD City Mayor Evelio Leonardia said Wednesday the dismissal of the criminal charges filed against him and the eight city executives in the procurement of furniture and fixtures for the Bacolod Government Center (BGC) in 2008 is an answered prayer.

Leonardia along with the Grupo Progreso councilors and hundreds of city employees attended a thanksgiving mass at the BGC lobby Wednesday, February 14.

“We are happy that it ended up like this, at least at this point of time. This was never a case of dishonesty and even the resolution of the Ombudsman, even right from the start, it was clear that there was no overprice, no under delivery, no bad faith, and no conspiracy,” the mayor said.

On January 26, 2018, the Sandiganbayan dismissed the criminal charges filed against Leonardia and his co-respondents lawyer Goldwyn Nifras, Luzviminda Treyes, Nelson Sedillo Sr., Belly Aguillon, Aladino Agbones, Jaries Ebenizer Encabo, Melvin Recabar and Eduardo Ravena due to inordinate delay.

The charges were filed by the Office of the Ombudsman.

The court ruled in favor of Leonardia’s motion to dismiss after Ombudsman investigators took more than eight years from the time the complaint was received by the local executive until the approval of the case’s joint resolution.

The Court of Appeals (CA) had earlier dismissed the administrative case of Leonardia and his co-respondents regarding the same case.

Leonardia said they are also ready if the complainant will file a motion for reconsideration.

“Even if there is a motion for reconsideration, I still consider this a major victory for us,” he added.

City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan said they are expecting the move of the Ombudsman to file a motion for reconsideration as part of the regular procedure.

He said the dismissal of both the criminal and administrative cases of the furniture complaint is a vindication and an answered prayer for the mayor and his supporters, and he can now move on with his daily tasks without being distracted by these cases.

He added that Aguillon and Encabo had already inquired with the Civil Service Commission with regards to their status after the CA ruled in their favor.

Bayatan said they are awaiting the opinion of the CSC and if it will decide on reinstating them and to pay their backwages, the City Government will act on it immediately.

Leonardia said: “How I wish to reinstate them, if only if it were in my power to do that, I want them to get their backwages because it’s almost a year that they have not been receiving their salaries.”