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Davao City officials ordered suspended

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman issued a six-month preventive suspension order against three ranking officials of Davao City for allegedly destroying P2 million worth of government property last year.

City Administrator Wendel Avisado, a lawyer; City Engineer Jose Gestuveo Jr.; and Drainage Maintenance Unit chief Yusop Jimlani; won’t be receiving their salaries during the period while a deeper investigation into the incident is being conducted.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno has been tasked to immediately implement the suspension order.

Avisado, Gestuveo, and Jimlani are accused of causing the demolition of a national government-funded Canal-Cover Project in the locality located along Quezon Boulevard in 2008.

The operation was allegedly carried out in order to clear all obstructions situated over the city’s drainage system.

Records show that canal covers were constructed to prevent accidents, stop garbage from reaching the sewers and clogging canals, and prevent foul odor from coming out.

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The Office of the Ombudsman said “the act of demolishing the Canal-Cover Project by the demolition team without securing the necessary permit prior to its demolition resulted to the damage of the government in the amount of P2 million.”

“The damage was unreasonable or at the very least was not proven to be necessary,” the order stated noting that under the National Building Code, the lack of building permit does not per se render the structure an illegal construction subject for immediate demolition.

The suspension order noted that it is the Department of Public Works and Highways that is mandated by law to determine and declare if a structure is a nuisance, dangerous or ruinous. 

Considering that the respondents are key officials of the city government of Davao, the Office of the Ombudsman said their continued presence or stay in the office will be prejudicial in the conduct of the investigation.

The suspension order said their continued discharge of their functions may likely influence potential witnesses or tamper with records which may be vital in the prosecution of the case against them.

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