Tom, 7 others cleared in ambulance case
Odessa O. Leyson (The Freeman) - February 13, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and seven other officials are now off the hook from a case filed against them two years ago for supposedly issuing an ambulance to a private individual.


Citing lack of probable cause, the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas dismissed the case against Osmeña; City Councilors Mary Ann de los Santos, Eugenio Gabuya Jr., Sisinio Andales, Jerry Guardo; Sambag 1 chairwoman Aileen Guardo; Department of General Services head Ronaldo Malacora; and former Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office head  Nagiel Bañacia.

Former Sambag 1 barangay captain Lemar Alcover filed the criminal complaint last April 12, 2017 for violation of Article 217 or the Malversation of Public Funds or Property of the Revised Penal Code and Section 3 (e) of the Republic Act No. 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

In pursuing the charges, Alcover alleged that the city-owned ambulance was issued to Aileen, then a civilian, instead of to the barangay.

Alcover also claimed that the issuance of ambulance was allegedly a reward for Aileen’s alliance to the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) camp, which for him was illegal and irregular.

On Osmeña’s behalf, Andales, Jerry, Gabuya, and Delos Santos turned over the vehicle to Aileen on April 4, 2017.

But in his counter-affidavit, Osmeña said the giving of ambulance was in line with the Barangay Disaster Control Center, which was created through Executive Order No. 005.

BDCC was formed under the supervision of CCDRRMMO headed by Bañacia, giving authority to the latter to use emergency equipment.

Malacora, for his part, lobbied for the dismissal of the case maintaining that the complainant failed to establish a specific violation committed.

DGS record showed that the vehicle was named under Bañacia.

“While conspiracy was alleged, complainant allegedly failed to point out any direct or circumstantial evidence establishing the existence of such conspiracy,” a portion of the decision read.

Aileen was then head of Sambag 1 Barangay Mayor’s Office (BMO). A BMO is considered as a satellite office of Osmeña in barangays where the leaders are allegedly not affiliated with the BOPK.

“Even granting that the subject property was turned over to private respondent Aileen, the ARE (Acknowledgement Receipt of Equipment) shows that the custody is still under the name of respondent Bañacia. The turnover to private respondent Aileen was merely ceremonial so as to inform the public that there is an ambulance in the area,” the decision added.

In the joint affidavit of the four councilors, they explained that the issuance of the ambulance was in line with the program of the mayor, which aims to respond all medical emergencies involving hospital care and patient transport.

They further said that eight other ambulances were issued to various areas in the city. The basis of the issuance of ambulance was population, road network, availability of support facility and others.

Andales was thankful that the Ombudsman ruled in favor of them.

“I am happy that baseless and unfounded criminal case has finally been dismissed by the Ombudsman. Thanks God and prayers for my supporters,” he told The FREEMAN.

Aileen expressed the same sentiments, saying she was confident from the start the case would not prosper.

“I am thankful to God that the decision of the Ombudsman really reflects the truth behind the incident. Since their allegations are baseless, I am confident then that the case will be dismissed. The truth will set us free,” she said.

The FREEMAN tried to get the side of Alcover but received no response from his end as of this writing. — JMD (FREEMAN)


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