By HERBIE GOMEZ
with BING TENORIO
GSD-Bukidnon bureau chief
BUKIDNON Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri yesterday assailed the decision of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to suspend him for six months for grave abuse of authority even as he questioned her office’s supposed investigation and findings.
On Monday, the Office of Ombudsman posted on its website a press release about Morales’s decision to slap Zubiri with a suspension order for his alleged action that was seen as oppression and a violation of the Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, specifically, Section 5(a) of RA no. 6713.
In a press statement, Zubiri said he was being made to answer for an act of the province’s chief executive at a time when he was not Bukidnon’s governor.
The ombudsman said Zubiri refused to sign the clearance, and act on the request for commutation of former provincial assessor Carlos Ycaro in January 2013. The ombudsman also stated that Zubiri claimed that Ycaro could not be cleared due to “missing chairs” which were the former provincial assessor’s property accountability.
Such clearance was required for Ycaro’s application for leave commutation–he has more than 300 days in commutable leave credits, according to the ombudsman’s office.
But Zubiri called the ombudsman’s findings “clearly baseless if not anomalous.”
Zubiri stated, “If the Office of [the] Ombudsman has indeed conducted an investigation, they should have found out that I was not the governor of the province of Bukidnon from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2013… How can I sign his clearance and act on his request for commutation in January 2013 then?”
Zubiri said his name was just superimposed over the name of the then Gov. Alex Calingasan. He said even Ycaro admitted that it was Calingasan who made the superimposition.
But even if he was the governor at that time, Zubiri said, he would rather not sign his clearance because of unaccounted government property worth millions of pesos.
“In a memorandum receipt which was signed by no less than Mr. Ycaro himself, he acknowledged that he (Mr. Ycaro) received 986 pieces of stackable folding chairs (Condura brand, color E2) amounting to P1,784,660.00 and 608 pieces of stackable gang chair (Condura brand, cover E1) amounting to P1,466,496.00 for a total of P3,251,156.00,” he said.
Zubiri said not a single “Condura chair” can be found, and aside from the missing chairs, there were other unaccounted items under his name. The other items, he said, include equipment valued at P8.1 million. He said it was found out during an inventory that the items installed amounted to only P868,472.
He denied that he failed to perform the mandate of Section 5(a) of RA 6713, calling the finding “baseless,” too, because as the vice governor at that time, he did not receive a copy of any request from Ycaro.
Zubiri said that “even granting for the sake of argument, that I am the proper authority to sign his clearance and act on his request, prudence and my conscience would dictate that I would rather not sign due to the fact of his ‘unaccounted’ items which are valued in millions.”
He asked Morales to review the findings. “… I take offense to the fact that the said statement from the ombudsman was already released even before I received a copy of the resolution.”