The private complainant accusing Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero of illegally appointing defeated candidates within the one-year ban is urging Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to “immediately” file the criminal cases against the lady mayor at the Sandiganbayan fearing that said cases would end up being junked for “inordinate delays”.
In a Manifestation dated January 8, 2018, Augustin Cloribel pushed for the filing of criminal charges against Montero for 1 count of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and for 4 counts of unlawful appointments citing “dozens upon dozens” of graft cases that that were dismissed, resulting in the acquittal of erring government officials, due to the length of time the Ombudsman took to file the charges at the Sandiganbayan.
Cloribel’s manifestation was filed at the Ombudsman even as Mayor Montero sought from the Court of Appeals (CA) a reversal of her 3-month suspension and the nullification of the Ombudsman’s decision finding her guilty of simple misconduct and suspending her for 3 months over her alleged appointment of partymates who were defeated during the May 2013 elections.
In a petition for certiorari dated January 11, 2018, a copy of which was obtained by media only recently, lawyer Maria Evaneliza Cloma, Montero’s counsel, asked the appellate court for a TRO, arguing that the Ombudsman have yet to resolve the motion for reconsideration which they filed on December 18, 2017.
The filing of Mayor Montero’s petition however came a day after the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) implemented the mayor’s suspension on January 10, 2018.
Montero is suspended for 3 months without pay as a result of the administrative aspect of the case filed by Cloribel.
In his manifestation, Cloribel said that he is “deeply troubled that it took [the] Ombudsman 2 years, 2 months and 12 days to resolve the criminal aspect of the case against Montero.
Accorging to Cloribel, he filed the complaint against Mayor Montero in August 14, 2015 and since the Ombudsman has already ordered the filing of charges for graft and unlawful appointments against Montero, then “there should be no reason for the delay of elevating the corresponding charges to the Sandiganbayan.”
Cloribel also noted that the investigation on the criminal aspect of the case against Montero was “actually completed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Irish Inabangan Amores more than a year ago”.
However, the resolution submitted by Amores was only endorsed and approved by Ombudsman Morales on October 26, 2017.
Cloribel acknowledged that the Ombudsman’s dockets is “burdened with so many cases” that has in turn “affected its speedy adjudication of complaints and cases”.
“Sadly, however, the Resolution was only endorsed for approval to Honorable Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on 31 January 2017, as reflected by the ‘date stamp’ which indicate the date on which Deputy Ombudsman Paul Elmer M. Clemente signed [the] Resolution and subsequently forwarded it for approval of the Hon. Conchita Carpio Morales. As can be gleaned in the Resolution, the Hon. Morales signed/approved the Resolution only on 26 October 2017, or almost a year after it was completed and submitted by the handling graft investigator/prosecutor,” Cloribel explained.
The Sandiganbayan recently dismissed the case of Municipal Mayor Mary Joyce Roquero of Valderrama, Antique, after the Sandiganbayan granted the Mayor’s Motion to Quash Informations on the ground that the Ombudsman’s delayed filing of her cases at the Sandiganbayan and therefore violated her right to a speedy disposition of her case.
The Sandiganbayan was left with no choice but to dismiss the criminal case against Roquero pointing out the Ombudsman’s inordinate delay of three (3) years, nine (9) months and ten (10) days to promulgate the Resolution and to file the case.
Cloribel told the Ombudsman that he is “extremely concerned that the cases against Mayor Montero will suffer a similar unfortunate outcome and [that she] would simply be acquitted of her crimes just because of such inordinate delays.”
DISMISSAL INSTEAD OF SUSPENSION
In a separate Manifestation with Motion for Reconsideration of the Ombudsman’s decision imposing the administrative penalty of 3-months suspension against Montero, Cloribel questioned why Mayor Montero is “only meted the reduced penalty of simple misconduct.”
Cloribel demanded from the Ombudsman to modify its finding that Montero is “only” liable for “simple misconduct” insisting that the mayor is guilty of “grave misconduct” which carries “the maximum penalty of dismissal from the service.”
According to Cloribel, the findings of facts and the conclusions reached by the Ombudsman’s Investigating Prosecutor/Graft Investigator clearly established Montero’s liability for grave misconduct.
“The Ombudsman’s decision was not in accord with law and logic. There were clear mis-appreciation of facts and misapplication of laws in the decision,” Cloribel said.
Cloribel accused the Ombudsman’s investigators of being “unduly influenced by payoffs” to “promulgate such atrocious and questionable ruling” which has made “a mockery of the law and a travesty of justice.”
Cloribel explained that suspicion of irregularity “naturally arises because the investigating prosecutor of [the] administrative case considers the misconduct committed by Mayor Montero as simple and not grave in spite of the fact that in the corresponding criminal proceeding of the administrative case, docketed as OMB-V-C-15-0266, [the] Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer finds Montero liable on four (4) counts for violation of Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code for Unlawful Appointments and for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”
Montero’s misconduct, according to Cloribel, cannot be characterized as ‘simple’ because the element of corruption exists in her appointment of her 4 losing partymates.
The Ombudsman even faulted the payment of the salaries of the 4 losing candidates and Montero’s insistence on retaining their services even despite a directive from the Commission on Audit (COA) to stop the payment of their monthly pay of P25,000.00 each.
In its 2014 Audit Report, the COA even pointed out the damage caused to the government by Montero’s continued payment of monthly wages to her unlawful appointees.
The indictment of Montero in the criminal aspect of the case stated that the mayor clearly “caused undue damage to the government” equivalent to the salaries of the 4 losing candidates.