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Case over 2 acting mayors dropped

Sunday, February 11, 2018

FOR lack of probable cause, the Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the administrative cases against Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and another City Hall official over the appointment of two deputy mayors in 2016.

In an 11-page resolution, Terrence Anton Callao, graft investigation and prosecution officer, said there aren’t enough elements that would constitute an offense on the part of the respondents.

Former City Hall consultant Aniceto Canturias had lodged an administrative complaint against the mayor, whom he accused of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical standards for Public Officials and Employees, and RA 10 or the Act Penalizing Usurpation of Public Authority.

Also named respondent was City Treasurer Veronica Morelos, who was then the city administrator at the time.

In the resolution, which Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved, Callao said that Morelos did not actually perform functions as acting mayor as urgent permits that needed the approval of the mayor were acted upon by Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella.

“There is no evidence showing that Morelos wielded the powers of an acting mayor, thereby negating the accusation,” read a portion of the resolution.

Before he left for Japan in July 2016, the mayor appointed Labella and Morelos as acting mayors through his Memorandum 2106-0732.

In his complaint, Canturias said he believed that the memorandum designating two acting mayors for the city is irregular, saying the vice mayor automatically exercises the power and performs the duties and functions of a city mayor in case of a temporary vacancy of office.

The resolution also added that the complaint also failed to specify the undue injury or actual damages that the City suffered due to the memorandum that Osmeña had issued. In his counter-affidavit, Osmeña also clarified that the inclusion of Morelos in his memorandum was only a directive for her to closely coordinate with Labella to make sure that delivery of basic daily operations in the City Government was well taken care of.

Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on February 11, 2018.

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