By NITZ ARANCON
MAYOR Oscar Moreno would appeal the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to bring him to the anti-graft court, and to slap him with a dismissal and disqualification from public office order in connection with the capitol’s lease of heavy equipment without a bidding when he was Misamis Oriental’s governor.
Moreno’s lawyer Dale Bryan Mordeno, said the mayor’s motion for reconsideration would be filed with the ombudsman’s within 10 days from receipt of the official decision. He said they got hold of a copy of the decision as early as two Fridays ago.
Aside from Moreno, the ombudsman also held former members of the capitol’s bids and awards committee liable for graft, and found them guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. The committee members are Patrick Gabutina, Elsie Lopoy, Engr. Rolando Pacuribot, Divina Bade, Cancio Guibone, Leemar Tinagan and Elmer Wabe.
Gabutina, Pacuribot and Wabe have moved to city hall; Lopoy has retired from the government service; Bade is serving in Lugait town; and Guibone is still practicing law. Tinagan’s wherebouts remains unclear.
It was the second time for Moreno to be slapped with a dismissal order with the corresponding punishment of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and a bar from taking the civil service examination. The first was in 2015 when the ombudsman decided on the graft case filed by a former barangay chairman in connection with city hall’s out-of-court settlement with Ajinomoto Philippines pertaining to its taxes. The Court of Appeals (CA) stopped the order from being implemented while the case is being heard.
Mordeno said they would ask the ombudsman to consider the mayor’s appeal and reverse its decision on the capitol’s lease of heavy equipment.
“The decision is not final an executory. We have 10 days to file the motion,” he said.
The case was a result of an investigation into the capitol’s 2007, 2011 and 2012 lease of heavy equipment by the Office of the Ombudsman’s field investigator based on the complaint filed by Antonio Nuñez Jr., husband of a lawyer identified with Padayon Pilipino members.
The investigator found out that fuel tankers, trailer trucks, and a vibratory road roller was leased for P1.414 million by the capitol during Moreno’s administration without any public bidding.
The ombudsman said in lieu of a bidding, the capitol then resorted to an “alternative method of shopping.”
Mordeno downplayed the case, saying it was “only a procedural issue.”
He also said the amount involved was only P299 thousand, and not P1,414,197.40 as stated in press release by the Office of the Ombudsman.
“What was on the website of the ombudsman was misleading,” Mordeno said.
He said Moreno would continue exercising his powers as mayor.
Mayor Moreno, for his part, called the ombudsman’s decision “premature” during a news conference yesterday.
He said he was disappointed that the ombudsman’s office did not give weight to a declaration by the director of the Commission on Audit in Region 10 that it “is incontrovertible fact that services have been rendered services of equipment not found exceeding the prevailing rental rates, benefits enjoyed by the public, and the accomplishment duly recognized and cited.”
Moreno argued that not all government transactions require public bidding.
Moreno said the ombudsman’s decision was not a cause for worry.
“It’s business as usual. I also want to emphasize that I will not break my covenant to the people. I pledge to serve the people, and no one can prevent me from doing that,” he said.