Dismissed CDO mayor optimistic of vindication on appeal
SURIGAO CITY, Philippines – Embattled Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno is confident he will be exonerated once the Ombudsman considers his counter-affidavit, which his lawyers submitted Monday.
Ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman in August, Moreno and acting City Treasurer Glenn Bañez filed their joint motion for reconsideration at the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao in Davao City, the satellite office of the Ombudsman for Cagayan de Oro and at the Ombudsman’s office in Quezon City.
Dale Mordeno, Moreno’s legal counsel, said the mayor’s motion centered on the supposed failure of the Ombudsman to consider his counter-affidavit. It also tackled the alleged “misplaced application of the law on requiring local chief executives to get authorization from the City Council before entering into a contract.”
“We are confident with our legal arguments that had the Ombudsman considered the mayor’s counter-affidavit filed on April 20, 2015, he and Bañez could have been exonerated from the case filed by a former barangay captain,” said Mordeno.
In its August 14 ruling, graft investigator Modesto Onia Jr. said “Moreno did not comply despite his receipt of the Office’s order on 10 April 2015…”
Mordeno said the mayor’s counter-affidavit, which bore the date of receipt by the Office of the Ombudsman on April 20, 2015, sought to debunk this claim.
Jonathan Pacuribut, another member of Moreno’s legal team, wondered how the mayor’s counter-affidavit could have been missed by the Ombudsman “when the counter affidavit of Bañez, submitted at the same time, became part of the case record.”
Moreno’s allies earlier called for an investigation relating to the purported disappearance of the mayor’s counter-affidavit. Moreno himself had hinted that “unseen hands” were responsible for the misplaced document.
Moreno and Bañez, in their joint motion for reconsideration, argued that in entering a tax settlement with Ajinomoto, the City Treasurer did not bind itself into a contract with the food manufacturer.
They explained that the compromise settlement between the local government and Ajinomoto before the Philippine Mediation Court was “purely a tax settlement agreement that stemmed from a purely tax assessment issue.”
Bañez asserted that the act was within his powers. Moreno, meanwhile, denied any knowledge of, and participation in the tax settlement.
Moreno further argued that as local chief executive, he only “exercises administrative supervision over the City Treasurer.” And that, under the Local Government Code, “the City Treasurer is appointed by the Secretary of Finance, and is under the direct control and supervision of the Bureau of Local Government Finance.”
The mayor, however, stood by Bañez, saying the latter was acting “within his powers as a treasurer.” SFM
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