CDO mayor Moreno decries dismissal as ‘harsh, excessive, cruel’
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno said on Thursday that his dismissal from the service and his disqualification from holding public office over a tax settlement forged with the Ajinomoto company was “excessive, harsh and cruel.”
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales dismissed Moreno on the basis of a complaint filed by William Guialani, a former barangay captain in the city.
In his complaint, Guialani alleged that Ajinomoto was made to pay city hall only some P300,000 for some P2.9 million in taxes, excluding surcharges, from 2006 to 2012.
He said this act was tantamount to “grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and violation of the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials.” He added that the agreement lacked the consent of the City Council.
Moreno said in a press conference, Thursday, that he had not yet received his copy of the decision although he had read about it from other sources.
“Obviously in the order, it says I have not filed my counter affidavit on the complaint. The order itself says that very categorically,” he said in a news conference in Cagayan de Oro City.
But Moreno said to the contrary, he had filed his counter statement to the complaint, stating that he had no part in the settlement agreement.
“Obviously the investigators of the Office of the Ombudsman failed to take a look at my counter-affidavit, they missed out on my counter-affidavit and that’s serious miscarriage of justice, especially that this order cleared me from grave abuse of discretion but it held me liable for grave misconduct,” he said.
Moreno said the penalties of dismissal and disqualification were “too harsh,
too cruel, very excessive.”
“And specially given that my answer was not considered. Now I understand that my detractors have celebrated because things now appear easier for them. But
they will not succeed and the rule of law dictates there should be no miscarriage of justice,” he said.
Moreno said he would file a motion for reconsideration and at the same time, a petition for temporary restraining order against the Ombudsman order at the Court of Appeals.
“Again, the order itself was very clear that I did not file a counter affidavit which is not true. I have filed it well on time and in my counter-affidavit. It was very clear that I have no knowledge of the alleged
settlement, I did not approve of it, I did not take part in it. So how could I now be held liable for that?” Moreno asked.
City Information Officer Maricel C. Rivera said Guillani’s complaint was a clear case of personal vendetta.
“Mr. Guialani will not stop his attacks unless he could get monetary compensation for his firm New Wishing Star Trading Corp., which secured a contract to run the Carmen public market but was later rescinded by city hall,” Rivera said.
Aside from Moreno, two other Mindanao executives were ordered dismissed from the service by the Office of the Ombudsman for various offenses, such as grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and gross neglect of duty, among others.
In a decision approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales issued in October, but was only made public on Thursday, Moreno was dismissed from the service and perpetually barred from holding public office along with Mayor Vicente Fernandez of Matanao, Davao del Sur; and Mayor Mamintal Adiong of Ditsa-an Ramain in Lanao del Sur.
In Moreno’s case, Morales said he was “found to have committed grave misconduct for entering into a settlement agreement with Ajinomoto Philippines without prior authorization from the Sangguniang Panlungsod.”
In the settlement, Moreno allowed Ajinomoto to just pay P300,000 out of its business tax deficiency of P2.9 million.
The lack of authorization from the Cagayan de Oro City council violated the Local Government Code, the Ombudsman decision, issued on October 6, said.
Aside from Moreno, the Ombudsman also ordered the dismissal of Glenn Bañez, the officer-in-charge of the Cagayan de Oro City Treasurer’s Office.
In the case of Fernandez, the Ombudsman said he continued to discharge his duties as Matanao mayor even while in detention and amid the appointment of an officer-in-charge mayor.
Fernandez was among suspects in the 2010 murder of Digos City journalist Nestor Bedolido.
In the October 5 decision that Morales had signed, Fernandez continued “to issue office orders, business permits and appointments, and signed official documents, among others” even after the appointment of Vice Mayor Elmer Javelona as acting mayor.
The decision on Adiong, signed in October yet, showed that the mayor “was found guilty of grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct and oppression,” when he ordered the burning of a truck owned by construction firm.
Aside from the mayors and former executives, Morales also ordered the dismissal from service of eight officials and employees of the town government of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur “for their involvement in the procurement of expired and overpriced medicines worth P1.8 million in 2009.”
Meanwhile, the Ombudsman said it found probable cause to indict several other former and current Mindanao executives for various charges.
Among them was former Cagayan de Oro City mayor Vicente Emano for demoting Leonor Esparcia from being administrative assistant III to watchman at the city library.
Mayor Alexander Pimentel of Tandag City in Surigao del Sur was also charged under the anti-graft law for reportedly refusing to pay city councilor Mario Cuartero of his salaries, allowance and bonuses for the period covering July 2010 to June 2011.
Mayor Diosdado Pallasigue of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat was also charged under the anti-graft law for disobeying a Civil Service Commission return to work order in favor of Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator Elias Segura, Jr., whom he had sacked in 2014. SFM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.