Cebu News

Mandaue execs deny allegations of abuse

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman
Mandaue execs deny allegations of abuse
Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes delivers his State of the City Address at the City Sports and Cultural Complex on August 1, 2023
Joy Torrejos

CEBU, Philippines — Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, along with two city officials and city councilors, has denied allegations of abuse of authority and corruption filed against them by a private individual.

In a statement released by Cortes, he said he and the other officials stand united in denying the

“baseless accusations of oppression, gross. misconduct, grave abuse of authority, and violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Violation of special environmental laws, recently filed by Maria Priscilla S. Melendres.”

“These complaints are entirely unfounded and motivated by personal vendetta,” said Cortes, adding “the public deserves to know the truth”.

Cortes said that Melendres previously filed a similar case against a company and individuals she accused of destroying mangrove trees near her claimed property.

According to the mayor, after a thorough investigation, the Office of the City Prosecutor dismissed the case due to lack of probable cause, stating that the private company was acting under lawful order of the city in pursuit of its obligation to serve the city.

Cortes said that the resolution, likewise, found that Melendres was not an offended party and has no legal standing under the law to file the case.

The mayor said that it should be noted that the project in question was implemented in the aftermath of the severe flooding in September 2022.

The city, he said after declaring a state of calamity, and “in the exercise of its police powers under the general welfare clause, in order to protect and secure the safety of the people in danger of flooding along Butuanon River, decided to implement a relief channel so that flood waters coming from Butuanon River can freely flow towards the Cansaga Bay and Mactan Channel.”

Because of this, Cortes said hundreds of families along Sitio Pagatpatan in Barangay Pandan have been secured from flash floods and other dangers during rainy season in the area.

Despite the Prosecutor's resolution, the mayor said that Melendres resorted to forum shopping, bringing her "baseless claims" to the Office of the President and the Office of the Ombudsman, on top of the one she filed before the Prosecutor, hoping for a more favorable resolution.

“It should be noted that the factual circumstances of the Ombudsman case is the same as that filed under the city prosecutor's, where they tried to implicate city officials through an amended complaint but was subsequently denied,” Cortes said.

Further, Cortes explained that the same case filed by the same complainant with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has not yet been resolved or prima facie evidence has not been found by them. A finding by DENR is a prerequisite before any investigation will proceed.

In fact, the mayor added that the DENR has not filed any case against the City of Mandaue for the alleged actions.

“These subsequent flings clearly disrespect the integrity of these esteemed offices and demonstrates her attempt to manipulate the legal system for personal gain,” the statement added.

“My administration and I remain committed to the highest standards of public service, focusing on the welfare and development of Mandaue City. These allegations are childish attempts to distract from our achievements and dedication to good governance,” part of the statement reads.

Cortes further said that Melendres is one of the many "claimants" of city-owned properties and lands in Barangay Paknaan, Mandaue, which the LGU is actively pursuing and repudiating.

“Melendres' own claims come from nothing more than a lease. It should be noted that this project in question was implemented in the aftermath of the severe flooding on September 2022,” the mayor said.

The mayor further urges the public to see the accusations for what they are—"a groundless attack on leaders who have worked tirelessly for the protection of our constituents and betterment of our city.”

“The mayor and the city officials and councilors shall cooperate with any lawful investigation and is hopeful and confident that the truth and justice will prevail,” the statement further said.

To recall, Melendres filed a complaint before the Office of the President and the Office of the Ombudsman prayed that pending investigation of these two agencies, an issuance of preventive suspension be issued against Cortes, City Councilors Maline Cortes-Zafra, Cynthia Remedio, Jen del Mar, and Oscar del Castillo.

Melendres said that she is the owner of a parcel of a 9.5 hectare land located at Zone Ahos, in front of the 6.5 Relocation Site, Paknaan, Mandaue City.

She said that she purchased the said parcel of land from her grandmother and thereafter, the tax declaration was issued in her name.

Melendres in a previous interview said that the land is now being used by the city government as a relocation site. —/ATO (FREEMAN)

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