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MAYOR’S OFFICE STRIPPED BARE

Ex-official’s plea: Spare ordinary workers from Cebu execs’ feud

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — A former city official welcomed the filing of charges against him and former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña for stripping bare the mayor’s office before the new city chief executive could assume office last week.

But Francisco “Bimbo” Fernandez, Osmeña’s former executive assistant, questioned the move to include ordinary city employees, security guards and even construction workers in the string of complaints filed in the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas on Monday.

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“They are free to file a case against me and I will defend myself. Tommy can defend himself,” Fernandez said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “My only question is why are they including ordinary individuals who cannot defend themselves?”

Osmeña, Fernandez and 42 others were among the respondents in the complaints filed by Mejelito Cajes, head of the Cebu City Hall Building Maintenance Services section of the Department of General Services Office (GSO), for stripping bare the mayor’s office before Mayor Edgardo Labella could formally take over the post on June 30.

Included in the complaint were former mayor’s office staff members, a private security firm, security officers as well as contractor Pericles Dakay of Dakay Construction and 32 construction workers.

‘Mastermind’

They were accused of theft, malicious mischief, grave misconduct, grave neglect of duty, conduct unbecoming of a public official, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.

“Respondent Tomas Osmeña is the mastermind after having readily admitted before the press that he ordered Pericles Dakay, owner and president of Dakay Construction, and his staff at the Office of the Mayor to take out his personal property or everything he paid for when he renovated the Office of the Mayor after the Sangguniang Panlungsod denied his request to renovate the 8th floor back in 2016,” the complaint said.

The complaint also questioned Osmeña’s acceptance of a “prohibited gift” of P1 million for the renovation of his office. It said this violated Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials).

Cajes asked the Ombudsman to indict Osmeña and his corespondents for criminal and administrative violations.

Won’t run away

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Amando Virgil Ligutan, Osmeña’s lawyer, said the former mayor would not run away from the charges.

“Everything that was taken out of the mayor’s office was owned by [Osmeña],” he said, noting that his client had documents supporting his claim.

Osmeña, according to Fernandez, had a certification from the GSO that the items inside the mayor’s office — from the glass dividers to the ceramic and kitchen tiles — were not owned by the city government since the former mayor spent for the renovation using his personal funds.

Fernandez said he was no longer with the city government when the items were removed on June 27.

The complaint said: “[Osmeña] was clearly motivated by his infantile personal grudge against Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella.”

It said the respondents did not have the authority to remove “government properties” in the mayor’s office. “The properties stored at the Office of the Mayor are presumed government properties unless shown proof of ownership,” it said.

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TAGS: Bimbo Fernandez, Cebu City mayor'r office, Edgardo Labella, Francisco Fernandez, Mejelito Cajes, Tomas Osmeña
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