Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ombudsman: Fernandez has no liability for discontinuing ex-mayor’s projects

The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the complaints filed by two contractors of the past city administration against incumbent Mayor Belen Fernandez and four other officials of the Dagupan City government for lack of probable cause and substantial evidence.

The complaints were filed by contractors Alexander Romulo Siapno and Lovell Siapno who alleged that they entered into several contracts with the Dagupan City government through then Mayor Benjamin Lim and delivered the goods procured and performed the infrastructure works required.

But the succeeding administration of Mayor Fernandez refused and directed her co-respondents to withhold payment “in retaliation against those who were associated with or supportive of her political rivals”.

The other respondents were City Treasurer Romelita Alcantara, Ma. Teresita Manaois, city accountant; Luz de Guzman, budget officer; and Ma. Virginia Rosario, city engineer.

Claimed by the complainants as unpaid, among others, were the repair of Product Center Building Phase 1 and II, fabrication of 100 units of movable barricades, fabrication of day care center at various barangays, construction of Santiago Cree Phase 2 and II, improvement of Japanese Garden, procurement of electrical materials for defective ornamental lampposts, and supply of poolside equipment.

In her counter-affidavit, Mayor Fernandez said that there was no proper turnover of the documents and records of the city government when she assumed as mayor in July 2013, adding that some of the documents pertaining to the transactions claimed by the complainants were missing.

The mayor said she only came to know of the complainants’ claims after receiving their demand letter on January 14, 2015 but nevertheless requested them to submit supporting documents but they did not comply.

Fernandez said the release of payment to complainants could not be given due course because of the anomalies, irregularities and defects, in violation of Republic Act of 9184.

In resolving the issue, the Ombudsman issued an order on November 5, 2015 directing the parties to submit their respective verified position papers within 10 days from notice. But only the respondents submitted their respective verified position papers.

The Ombudsman said there was no showing that the mayor persuaded, influenced or induced the other respondents to defer payment of complainants.

It said that the charge of violation of Section 3(3) of RA No. 3019 must fail.

Based on this, the Ombudsman said it finds no substantial evidence to hold respondents administratively liable for Grave Misconduct or Grave Abuse of Authority, saying they did not violate any law or established rules of action in refusing to allow payment of complainants’ claims until the submission of the required documents.

Finally, the Ombudsman said that the charge for violation of RA No. 9845 is misplaced since respondents are not among those who provide front line services. (Leonardo V. Micua/PNA)

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