Abellanosa to file appeal over graft case

REP. Rodrigo Abellanosa (Cebu City, south district) will ask the Court of Appeals (CA) to reverse the denial of his motion for reconsideration in the graft case filed against him.

u201cDefinitely, our lawyers will file an appeal in the CA if it is true that the graft investigator has ignored the solid arguments in our motion for reconsideration,” he said yesterday.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales dismissed for lack of basis and merit the move of Abellanosa seeking reversal of the anti-graft body’s earlier decision finding him guilty of grave misconduct for his involvement in the City Government’s scholarship program.

Morales, in her decision, said Abellanosa had failed to uphold the tenets of public office. She said all public officers must exhibit at all times the highest sense of integrity and honesty.

They should also be “accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives,” she said.

Aside from this, Morales upheld the decision of the anti-graft body canceling the eligibility of Abellanosa as well as forfeiting his retirement benefits. He is also perpetually disqualified from public office.

The order denying the motion for reconsideration of Abellanosa was signed on Feb. 17 this year by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer I Jess Vincent Dela Pena and approved by Morales on May 6.

No copy yet

Abellanosa said yesterday, though, that his lawyers in Manila haven’t received yet a copy of the Ombudsman’s ruling until now.

u201cThey (lawyers) are casting doubts on the authenticity, veracity and source of document,” he added.

The graft case against Abellanosa stemmed from the administrative and criminal cases filed by taxpayer Philip Banguiran against Abellanosa in December 2012, for alleged violations of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Banguiran is said to be a supporter of Team Rama.

The case was filed against Abellanosa, who was then a city councilor, eight months before the May 2013 polls. Abellanosa was the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan’s candidate for Congress.

Guilty

In their decision in May last year, the Ombudsman found Abellanosa guilty of conflict of interest for signing the memorandum of agreement in 2010 and 2011 for the inclusion of his school, the Asian College of Technology now known as the Asian College of Technology International Education Foundation (ACTIEF), in the City’s scholarship program.

Abellanosa was also the school’s trustee and president. Abellanosa has already divested his shares, though, in the school.

Sought for comment about the Ombudsman’s recent decision, Mayor Michael Rama said yesterday he doesn’t want to add insult to injury.

u201cLet the legal action be in motion. You know, it is not easy getting to that direction (dismissal). When you lose a seat and you will also be criminally facing and you will end up being disqualified, it is not going to be an easy thing,” he said.

As for the City Legal Office, they already filed a motion before the court to set a pre-trial conference over their petition for declaratory relief.

Through the declaratory relief, the City wants the court to determine if it is allowed by law to pay ACTIEF some P135 million in obligations following the findings of the Ombudsman.

Also with the recent dismissal of Abellanosa’s motion for reconsideration, the City Hall lawyers reiterated their stand to suspend payment until the case will be resolved with finality.

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