NO VIOLATION OF ANTI-GRAFT
THE Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed for lack of probable cause and substantial evidence the complaints filed against Mayor Belen Fernandez and four other city officials by two contractors who charged that the city government refused to pay contracts entered into with former Mayor Benjamin Lim.
The 18-page consolidated resolution was signed by Allan John Atienza, Graft Investigation and Prosecution II and reviewed by Joaquin Salazar, director of the preliminary investigation and adjudication and prosecution bureau.
The other respondents in the two complaints were City Treasurer Romelita Alcantara, City Accountant Ma, Teresita Manaois, City Budget Officer Luz de Guzman and City Engr. Ma. Virginia Rosario.
The complainants Alexander Romulo Siapno and Lovell Siapno, both contractors, accused the mayor and four other city officials of violation of the anti-graft law and Republic Act No. 9485.
Specifically, the complainants alleged that no payment was made by the city government despite several follow-ups and in spite of the fact that the transactions were made through public bidding and awarded to them as winning bidders and all the supporting documents for the release of payment were duly accomplished.
They claimed Fernandez refused and unlawfully directed her co-respondents to withhold payment “in retaliation against those who were associated with or supportive of her political rivals.”
In her counter-affidavit refuting the allegations, Fernandez said there was no proper turnover of the documents and records of the city government when she assumed as mayor on July 1, 2013, adding that some of the documents pertaining to the transactions claimed by the complainants were missing.
She argued that when she came to know of the complainants’ claims after receiving their demand letter on 14 January 2015, she requested the two complainants to submit documents supporting their respective claims for payment but they did not comply.
The mayor also argued that the release of payment could not be given because of the anomalies, irregularities and defects, in violation of RA No. 9184, attending to the subject transactions.
In sum, the Ombudsman ruled –
- There was no showing that the mayor persuaded, influenced or induced her co-respondents to defer payments of complainants’ claims.
- There is no evidence that non payment of the projects undertaken by complainants were attended with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence.
- The non-payment of claims by complainants was due to their failure to submit the documents supporting their claims and to clarify the irregularities which attended the bidding process, and that there is no showing that non-payment of claims had political underpinning or that complainants were singled out among the contractors who had transactions with the City Government.
- Respondents did not violate any law or established rule of action in refusing to allow payments of complainants until the submission of the required documents. (Leonardo Micua)