Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia clarified yesterday that the Ombudsman case against them involving the procurement of furniture for the Bacolod Government Center actually covers two aspects – the administrative case and the criminal case.
Leonardia said they fought the administrative case at the Court of Appeals, which granted him a temporary restraining order in January 2017 against the dismissal sanction of the Ombudsman.
Eventually, in September 2017, the CA exonerated him and six other co-respondents on this administrative case while ruling that two other respondents were guilty only of “Simple Misconduct” for which they were penalized with a 3-month suspension, he said.
The Ombudsman then filed a motion for reconsideration of this Decision, which is still pending resolution by the CA, he added.
Leonardia said it should be noted that the facts in the administrative complaint are also the same as those in the criminal case.
The latter case was filed only last week against them at the Sandiganbayan by the Ombudsman, he said.
Victor Puey, one of the bidders, said in a radio interview, that the case for violation of R.A. 3019 had been raffled off last week in the Sandiganbayan 4 th Division.
The Office of the Ombudsman had earlier ordered the dismissal from service of Leonardia and nine others for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty involving the alleged illegal procurement of furniture and fixtures for the Bacolod Government Center amounting to about P50 million.
The Ombudsman ordered the filing of criminal charges of violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Leonardia, former Bids and Awards chairman Goldwyn Nifras. former Budget Officer LuzvimindaTreyes, the late City Legal Officer Allan Zamora, BAC member Nelson Sedillo Sr., and former members of the Technical Working Group namely, GliceriaCaduhada, Eduardo Ravena, JariesEncabo, Belly Aguillon and AladinoAgbones, BAC Secretariat head Melvin Recabar and former City Treasurer Annabelle Badajos.
“I personally welcome the filing of this case at the SB because, now, I and my fellow co-accused can avail of all legal options to, once and for all, clear our names of these charges,” Leonardia said.
“The SB is another playing field. This is another level of the judicial system. So for us, this is now an entirely new ballgame,” he said.
Leonardia said they are very hopeful that the SB will see this case as the CA also saw it and, eventually, render judgment in their favor.
“As already mentioned, the facts of the case are exactly the same for both the administrative and criminal cases. So, we have valid reasons to be hopeful,” he said.
Even the Ombudsman admits in its own resolution that there was no conspiracy and no evident bad faith in their handling of this procurement, and that all the furniture items were delivered. There was even no mention of over-price, Leonardia said.
“To our supporters, we assure you that we will fight this out in court. We believe the law and the facts of this case are on our side. Nevertheless, we ask for your prayers and continued support so that our consistent legal defense will win the day for us in the end,” the mayor added.*CGS
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