By SHIELA MAE BUTLIG
and JIGGER JERUSALEM
THE Office of the Ombudsman has trashed the complaint for nepotism and graft filed against Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano and his brother-in-law President Elipe, the capitol announced yesterday.
Emano and Elipe called the decision a vidication in a news conference.
In a six-page resolution, the ombudsman said no sufficient evidence was presented against Emano and Elipe.
Elipe, incidentally, sits in the provincial board as an appointed replacement of Mario Emano who died in November 2017.
Before his appointment, Elipe served as general manager of the government-owned Misamis Oriental Integrated Sports Complex on Apolinar Velez Street, this city, an appointment that resulted in the filing of the Oct. 4, 2018 complaint for graft and nepotism by one Ernesto Molina.
In his complaint, Molina accused Emano of malversation of public funds. He also accused Emano of violating the law on nepotism by appointing Elipe as the general manager of the sports facility, pointing out that the two officials are brothers-in-law.
Specifically, the brothers-in-law were charged with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code (unlawful appointments), malversation, grave misconduct, and grave abuse of authority.
Molina accused Elipe of non-remittance of revenues generated by the sports complex to the capitol in violation of government accounting and auditing rules.
The Office of the Ombudsman however said Molina failed to show sufficient evidence to substantiate his allegations against Emano and Elipe. The resolution was signed by graft investigator and prosecutor Rosemil Robles Banaga.
Reads part of the ombudsman’s resolution: “First, the charge of nepotism or unlawful appointment against respondents hinged on whether subject sports center is public in character. The evidence on record, however, do not satisfactorily establish this fact.”
It added: “There is likewise no proof pointing that respondents committed a violation of the anti-graft law or that they malversed some public funds.
“In fine, given the insufficiency of evidence against respondents, none of the present charges against them, criminal or administrative, could stand.”
Elipe told a news conference yesterday that the case was dismissed on July 27, 2018, but he received his copy just this month.
This paper checked and found out that the capitol received the ombudsman’s ruling as early as February.
Emano, for his part, said he was thankful that Office of the Ombudsman carefully weighed the evidence, and ruled in their favor.
“There is no way to defeat the truth,” he said.
He blamed Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno for Molina’s case, calling it a “desperate move” by the city’s chief executive.
Capitol officials said Molina, based on information they gathered, served as a city hall “job order” worker.
The officials also threatened to press charges against Molina for allegedly falsifying documents.
“Gaplano mi karon nga mo-counter migpasakag kaso for falsifying documents, and for politically harrasing us,” Emano said.
“This is the plan of the Moreno camp to get even with his more than 100 graft cases which they blamed and accused me as the mastermind, where in fact his cases are the result of his own actions,” Emano said.
Elipe, for his part, said he had always been confident that the case would be dismissed, asserting that he knew that no law was broken when he was appointed in 2016 as general manager of the sports complex.
He said the accusations of nepotism and graft were unfounded.
In his affidavit, Molina said the 2016 appointment was “nepotic since respondents Emano and Elipe are relatives by affinity within the second civil degree.”
Emano, in his counter-affidavit, reasoned that he did not commit any offense as the sports complex is not government-owned, although the facility is being jointly managed by local governments of Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro, and the Department of Education.
Also, Emano said the sports center operates as a private enterprise since 1976, and, as such, it has no government accountable forms, not subject to audit by the Commission on Audit, and does not receive funding of any form from the national or local government.