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Ombudsman orders Mabilog's indictment for towing deal

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Partrick Mabilog was ordered charged before the Sandiganbayan with one count of violation of Section 3 (h) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Mabilog Facebook page, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of a graft case against Iloilo City Mayor Jed Partrick Mabilog over an alleged towing services deal entered in 2015 with a firm he allegedly owned.

In a resolution recently signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Mabilog was ordered charged before the Sandiganbayan with one count of violation of Section 3 (h) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Also ordered charged with the same offense was City Councilor Plaridel Nava II.

Section 3 (h) of RA 3019 prohibits public official from having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in which he has the official capacity to intervene.

Based on the ombudsman's investigation, the city government, in April 2015 entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with 3L Towing Services for the clamping of the vehicles to be towed in accordance with the city's towing ordinance.

The MOA was in connection with the Sangguniang Panglungsod or city council's approval in April 2014 of an ordinance requiring the use of a wheel towing clamp as part of its towing operation.

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Under the MOA, 70 percent of the fines collected would be given to the towing company while the remaining 30 percent would be the city government's share.

The ombudsman noted that Nava had earlier alleged that it was Mabilog who truly owned 3L, and the company's named proprietress Leny Garcia was just serving as its dummy owner.

Nava said that in June 16, 2014 Mabilog even handed him P500,000 in cash as part of his capital contribution to the business. Nava said Mabilog also expedited the release of the business and mayor’s permits of the towing company.

In his counter-charge, Mabilog claimed that “it is Nava who has pecuniary interest in 3L because it was the latter who told him about it and its intention of bidding for the towing project even defending the qualifications of 3L.”

In its resolution, the ombudsman said that while Mabilog and Nava pointed to each other as the true owner of 3L, both “have financial or pecuniary interest in the MOA for towing and clamping” of the vehicles.

“One thing is clear from their accusations and counter-accusations—both colluded to create 3L, to get Garcia to act as its dummy owner, to have the business registered with the DTI and BIR, to secure its business and mayor’s permits, and to have it awarded the MOA with the city government without going through a competitive process,” the resolution read.

The ombudsman noted that Nava, who then the chairman of the city's committee on transporation, was actually the one who sponsored the wheel clamping ordinance as a supplement to the city's existing towing ordinance.

The ombudsman said the amendments to the towing ordinance allowed the city government to enter into a MOA with a private party for a term of five years “without mentioning as to how the entity should be chosen.”

“As admitted by Nava himself, it was done so with 3L in mind...Simply put, there was a meeting of the minds between them (Mabilog and Nava) to do an illegal act and thus they must both suffer its consequences,” the ombudsman said.

Mabilog became controversial after President Rodrigo Duterte last year linked him to the illegal drugs trade.

READ: Duterte orders lifestyle check on Iloilo mayor

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