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CA reinstates Bacolod mayor

BACOLOD CITY , Philippines  —  The Court of Appeals (CA) has reversed the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman dismissing Mayor Evelio Leonardia for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.

Leonardia was indicted for graft last year over the alleged anomalous procurement of P50 million worth of furniture and fixtures for the Bacolod City Government Center in 2008.

Goldwyn Nifras, former bids and awards committee chairman; BAC member Nelson Sedillo Sr.; technical working group members Gliceria Caduhada, Eduardo Ravena, Jaries Encabo, Belly Aguillon and Aladino Agbones; BAC secretariat head Melvin Recabar, budget officer Luzviminda Treyes and city treasurer Annabelle Badajos were named respondents in the case.

In a decision promulgated on Sept. 6 and released yesterday, the 18th division of the appellate court said the respondents did not violate the Government Procurement Reform Act.

“It was never claimed that the prices of the procured items were unreasonable. It was also undisputed that all the items...were delivered…It was not proven...that petitioners’ alleged violation of the law was with willful intent. Petitioners cannot be held liable for grave misconduct or gross neglect of duty,” the CA ruling stated.

However, the court found Recabar and Ravena guilty of simple misconduct and ordered their suspension for three months without pay.

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Leonardia welcomed the CA ruling, saying  there was no overprice, conspiracy or bad faith.  “It was just a matter of technicalities and procedures,” he said.

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