The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed a graft complaint against Pasay Mayor Antonino Calixto and 10 other city officials for allegedly entering into anomalous garbage contracts six years ago.
In her review order, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales cleared Calixto, then the vice mayor who also headed the city council, for passing a series of council resolutions that allowed his predecessor, Mayor Wenceslao “Peewee” Trinidad, to extend the services of garbage contractors they allegedly favored.
Apart from Calixto and Trinidad, Councilors Richard Advincula, Lexter Ibay, Jose Antonio Roxas, Ma. Antonia Cuneta, Noel Bayona, Arnel Regino Arceo, Editha Vergel de Dios, Maria Iris Pineda and Greg Paolo Alcera were also included in the charge that has been dropped.
Citing the prosecution’s failure to build a firm case against the city officials, highlighted by the flip-flopping of one of the accused who offered to become state witness, the case against them “would be an exercise in futility,” said Morales.
In the order, the Ombudsman took note of the fact that the allegations against Calixto and the other officials relied solely on the testimonies of Councilor Antonia Cuneta and her husband Generoso, which were “notably bereft of independent corroboration from some other sources.”
Morales also cited the fact that Generoso Cuneta had been previously convicted in a malversation case, diminishing his credibility as a witness.
Calixto said it was clear from the very beginning that there was a political motive in the filing of the case, which the Ombudsman also cited in the order.
In 2006, Antonia Cuneta allegedly admitted to Trinidad that then Pasay Rep. Consuelo “Connie” Dy and her husband Joey threatened to revive the malversation case against Generoso if the couple allied themselves with the mayor.
Calixto said he was hopeful that the city could finally move forward with more pressing matters with the case off their backs.
“We already suffered for something we did not do,” the mayor told reporters, referring to the suspensions the interior department meted on them in 2006.
Asked if the city planned to pursue legal action against those who filed the complaint, the mayor said this did not cross his mind. What was important for him now was to buckle down to work, he said.
“At some point, we have to stop that kind of culture from developing. Filing cases against your political opponents are merely dirty tricks of politicians,” Calixto said.