Cagayan de Oro mayor ordered to answer plunder case
The Ombudsman’s preliminary investigation on the P79-million plunder complaint against Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno has begun moving.
The Ombudsman’s Mindanao office in Davao City, in a two-page order dated Dec. 7 and signed by Deputy Ombudsman Rodolfo Elman, directed Moreno to file his counteraffidavit within 10 days of notice.
This was in order to refute the allegations of the field investigators that he misused the amount by issuing and encashing eight separate checks in early 2015 despite the lack of appropriation approved by the city council.
The order stated that the Ombudsman Field Investigation Unit’s (FIU) criminal and administrative complaints against Moreno were “sufficient in form and substance.”
The FIU based its case on a complaint first filed in 2016 by private individual, Clemente Atoc.
Moreno was accused of the crimes of plunder, graft, technical malversation and violation of the Local Government Code.
The FIU also sought Moreno’s dismissal and disqualification from public office as disciplinary sanction for the serious administrative offenses of grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Named as Moreno’s fellow respondents were acting city treasurer Glenn Bañez, accountant Beda Joy Elot and another city government employee Percy Salazar.
The Ombudsman had previously ordered Moreno’s indictment and dismissal multiple times in connection with several heavy equipment lease deals that did not go through public bidding, as well as the rent for a building for the Cagayan de Oro City boxing program without city council authorization.
Some of the criminal charges that made it to the Sandiganbayan were dismissed on the ground of unreasonable delay in the Ombudsman’s investigation.
The numerous attempts of the Ombudsman to unseat Moreno were either reversed or currently stopped by the Court of Appeals through a temporary restraining order.
Moreno’s reelection bid this 2019 is challenged by Pompee La Viña, who became a Social Security System commissioner and a tourism and agriculture undersecretary after serving as President Duterte’s social media campaign director.
Moreno is facing a total of 79 cases lodged in the Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals, Supreme Court and the Office of the President.
He had recently been arraigned by the Sandiganbayan for one of those cases.
Moreno, in a recent episode of his weekly program at radio station dxCC in Cagayan de Oro, said he welcomed his arraignment because it meant he would be given his day in court.
He said his detractors just wanted to disrupt his official functions as mayor by filing a barrage of cases against him.
“They want to make my life difficult, to taint my name,” he said.