Iloilo mayor, councilor face graft raps
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has found basis to order the filing of graft charges against Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and Councilor Plaridel Nava II for alleged collusion over a towing deal with a company they accused each other of being involved with.
Morales approved the filing of one count of violation of Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Mabilog and Nava over the 2015 agreement with 3L Towing Services.
The law prohibits public officials from directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any transaction in which he takes part in an official capacity.
Mabilog, who is out of the country, is on medical leave until the end of September to get treatment for diabetes.
The impending graft case arose from Nava’s accusation that Mabilog ordered him to set up the scheme. Mabilog claimed Nava had the monetary interest in 3L.
The Ombudsman said the affidavits of Nava and Mabilog consistently showed that they conspired to create 3L and get Leny Garcia to act as the dummy owner.
It was Nava, then chair of the city council’s committee on transportation, who initiated the case by filing a complaint in September 2015.
3L was tapped to implement the city’s April 8, 2014 clamping ordinance through a Feb. 17, 2015 resolution authorizing Mabilog to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA). Under the MOA, 70 percent of the fines would be given to the towing company, while 30 percent would be the local government’s share.
On Feb. 27, 2015, Mabilog, through an urgent letter, asked the city council to withdraw the MOA due to “some technical issues.” On May 19, 2015, Garcia wrote Mabilog to withdraw from the MOA.
After the agreement fell through, Nava accused Mabilog of being the true owner of 3L and of having “illegitimate, immoral, dishonest and underground acts and transactions with private groups and corporate personalities doing or intending to do business in the city of Iloilo.”
But Mabilog said it was Nava who told him about 3L’s intention to bid for the project and defended its qualifications.
The Ombudsman, however, held both liable for creating 3L, getting Garcia to act as dummy owner, processing its registration, and awarding the MOA without going through a competitive process.
“Simply put, there was a meeting of the minds between them to do an illegal act and thus they must both suffer its consequences,” Morales said.
Nava expressed disappointment and surprise that the Ombudsman indicted him in a graft complaint he had filed against Mabilog.
“I have not received a copy of the Ombudsman resolution but they should now look for other witnesses and other sources of evidence because I am not inclined to testify against Mabilog,” Nava told the Inquirer.
He pointed out that he was the one who presented evidence in the complaint against Mabilog.
“I don’t think I deserve this,” said Nava, a staunch critic of the mayor.
Mark Piad, Mabilog’s spokesperson, said they had not received a copy of the resolution.
“As of the moment, we might as well wait for the written resolution so that the lawyers could file the proper legal remedies,” he said.
But in a statement issued in September last year, Mabilog denied the allegations. —With a report from Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
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