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Ombuds finds bases to investigate complaint vs Rama, 2 brgy execs

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo/ATO (The Freeman) - January 28, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman Visayas has found “enough bases” to proceed with the investigation into the complaint filed by a taxpayer against suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and two barangay captains for allegedly violating the Code of Conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees.

In a January 18 order, OIC of the Ombudsman’s Evaluation and Investigation Office, Jane Aguilar, asked Rama, as well as barangay captains Philip Zafra and Joel Garganera, the Association of Barangay Councils president and vice president, respectively,  to explain their side on the complaint filed by a certain Engineer Patricio Salado Jr.

“Finding enough bases to proceed with the preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication of the aforementioned cases, above-named respondents are hereby ordered to file their counter-affidavit and other controverting evidence on the complaint filed by Engr. Patricio L. Salado Jr.,” read the order.

Garganera said he received the order yesterday morning. He said they are given 10 days from receipt of the order to file their counter-affidavit.

Last December 2, the anti-graft office received the complaint of Salado.

The complaint was in relation to the alleged protest staged by some employees and barangay officials on October 7, 2015 regarding the stalled Supplemental Budget-1, which contains allocation for the garbage tipping fee and collection of the city government, among others.

In the complaint, Salado said the officials violated the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, as well as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when they mounted the protest in front of City Hall.

With this, Salado asked the anti-graft office to “criminally prosecute” and “administratively sanction the officials.

Further, Salado asked the Ombudsman to place the involved officials under preventive suspension while the resolution of the complaint is pending.

Garganera said he will meet with Rama and Zafra about the complaint and their reply.  He added that they are ready to answer the complaint.

“On the part of the barangay captains, we were just expressing our sentiments and that is a constitutional right. I don’t think we violated anything here,” he said.

In his defense, Garga-nera clarified that it was just an assembly to express their disappointment over the delay in the passage of the city’s additional budget, which contains several items for basic services.

He believes that it was just a game plan of their political rivals.

 “Their game plan is to suspend the allies of the mayor and the mayor himself,” he said.

But he said he understands that the Ombudsman just took cognizance of the complaint.

In a separate interview, Zafra said he has not received a copy of the order yet.

Zafra, an ex-officio member of the City Council, said he was attending the session when the alleged protest took place.

Branding the complaint as a “political harassment,” he said he will ask his lawyers to answer the complaint.

“If fighting for the concern of the 80 barangays is a sin, who by the way were just asking the council to please pass SB1 considering that vital basic services are there such as the prepayment of the entire SRP debt, the asphalting of our dilapida-ted roads, the fencing of our public elementary schools, the procurement of street lighting facilities for the barangays, among others, then I plead guilty to it,” Zafra said.

He said he cannot stop the barangay officials, employees, and the residents of the city from going to the City Hall and express their grievances.

He added that the people were just asking the City Council to act on the additional budget of the year to fund the garbage problem in the city.  (FREEMAN)

 

ACIRC ANTI-GRAFT AND CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT ASSOCIATION OF BARANGAY COUNCILS CEBU CITY MAYOR MICHAEL RAMA CITY CITY COUNCIL CITY HALL CODE OF CONDUCT COMPLAINT SALADO ZAFRA
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