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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, February 15, 2018
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Dismissal of graft case
answered prayer: Bing
BY CHRYSEE SAMILLANO

Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia yesterday said they consider the dismissal by the Sandiganbayan of the graft case filed against them by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged anomalous procurement of P49-million worth of furniture and fixtures in 2008, an answered prayer.

The mayor said he also considers this a major victory for them, during a thanksgiving celebration held yesterday at the Bacolod City Government Center that fell on Valentine's Day.

City Legal Officer JoselitoBayatan said the criminal case was dismissed in consideration of the constitutional right of innocence. The ground of inordinate delay encompassed such right, he said.

The dismissal, however, mentioned the issue of prejudicial question in connection with the earlier decision of the Court of Appeals also dismissing the administrative complaint in that the merits in the administrative case may be considered by the Sandiganbayan, he said.

“This may also be a factor in considering further the constitutional innocence of the accused,” Bayatan added.

Leonardia emphasized that this was never a case of dishonesty. It was also clear in the decision of the Ombudsman that there was no overprice, no bad faith, and no conspiracy, he said.

People in his office know he wants all transactions of the city to be legal, Leonardia said..

He assured that they follow laws and ordinances, but inspite of that, they are facing cases because of the reality that there is politics, he said.

Leonardia said they are climbing every mountain and are cruising through rough times because they have political enemies.

His concern are the other employees involved in the case and he hopes that the Civil Service Commission will answer them at the earliest possible time.

Bayatan said City Engineer Belly Aguillon and JariesEncabo, both under the City Engineer's Office, sent a letter inquiry to the CSC last week regarding their status in connection with the decision of the Court of Appeals in their favor.

Bayatan said they will wait for the opinion of the CSC and assess it. If they should be reinstated and paid their back wages, then the CLO will act on it immediately.

Meanwhile, Leonardia said Bacolod will be celebrating its 80 th year this time, so he appealed to the employees and their supporters for their support and cooperation.

Leonardia thanked the supporters of GrupoProgreso, who came in red shirts, during the thanksgiving mass held yesterday.

Present were Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, Councilors Bart Orola, RenecitoNovero, Dindo Ramos, EmAng, Elmer Sy and Cindy Rojas, former councilors Roberto Rojas, and Al Victor Espino, Baciwa chairman LorendoDilag and director Mona DiaJardin, Hugo Corral, who represented Bacolod Rep. Gasataya, barangay captains and kagawads and supporters of GrupoProgreso, Leonardia's high school classmates and guests, his wife, Elsa, and daughter Kara.*CGS

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