Ombudsman junks graft complaint vs. Lipa city mayor

Published August 13, 2018, 8:01 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Czarina Nicole Ong

The Office of the Ombudsman has decided to junk the graft complaint against Lipa City Mayor Meynardo Asa Sabili of Batangas since the complainant expressed lack of interest to pursue the case.

Office of the Ombudsman (Credits: Office of the Ombudsman Philippines via Facebook | Manila Bulletin)
Office of the Ombudsman (Credits: Office of the Ombudsman Philippines via Facebook | Manila Bulletin)

The Ombudsman earlier found probable cause to indict Sabili and city administrator Leo Latido of violations of Section 3(e) of Republic Act. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Section 18 in relation to Section 24 of R.A. 9433 or the Magna Carta for Public Social Workers.

This was for the reportedly illegal reassignment of a municipal employee. Teresita Pesa filed the complaint against Sabili on September 15, 2010 after she was reassigned from being city social welfare and development (CSWD) officer.

On December 11, 2017, the Ombudsman issued a resolution for Sabili and Latido to be administratively held liable for oppression and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. They were slapped with a penalty of one-year suspension from office without pay.

Sabili and Latido filed a motion for reconsideration on December 22, 2017 and stated that the complainant wished to withdraw her complaint. Because of this, the Ombudsman decided to dismiss the case as well.

Pesa said in her appeal letter that her actions were a product of misunderstanding and motivated by resentment since she did not want to leave her CSWD post. However, she “knew from the start that her reassignment was due to the exigency of service and was done in good faith.”

At the same time, there is no showing that the complainant was singled out and that the reassignment was intended to harass or oppress her.

Apparently, other department heads and employees were reassigned as well, such as Belen Villanueva of the City Accounting Office and Dr. Alex Silang of the City Health Office.

The reassignments were reportedly done to curb and eliminate corruption and increase efficiency of the concerned offices.

“While retraction of testimonies previously given is looked with disfavor as the asserted motives for the repudiation are commonly held suspect, and the veracity of the statements made in the affidavit of repudiation are frequently and deservedly subject to serious doubt, the prosecution of this case cannot proceed in court without the actual participation of the complainant, who alone, could testify the acts earlier complained about,” the Ombudsman order read.