4 CASES VS. OSMEÑA
Alcover lodges complaints at the Ombudsman for the Visayas
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña faces a string of complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman for the Visayas over alleged unlawful acts that ranged from his grant of cash rewards to policemen for slain criminals, to opting to hold a flag raising ceremony at the City Hall only once a month.
The four complaints, lodged yesterday by one of the mayor’s arch critics, City Councilor Pastor “Jun” Alcover Jr., before Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente, also sought for the preventive suspension of the mayor.
Alcover accused Osmeña of grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for allegedly enticing policemen assigned in Cebu City with cash rewards for the killing of persons involved in illegal drugs.
He also accused the mayor of gross ignorance and/or wanton disregard of law over the alleged unlawful appointment of city councilors belonging to his party, the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK), as his “deputy mayors.”
He said the mayor should also be held liable for alleged nepotism for naming his wife, Councilor Margot Osmeña, as a deputy mayor; and, lastly, for violating the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines for mandating that the flag raising and lowering ceremonies be only done once a month.
According to Alcover, he filed the complaints because the city’s constituents need to know the alleged illegal and questionable acts supposedly committed by the mayor in and out of City Hall.
A first time councilor, Alcover won in the May elections under Team Rama, which was led by the defeated reelectionist mayor, Michael Rama.
Alcover, in his complaint, believed that Osmeña’s offering of cash rewards to policemen spurred them to kill drug suspects in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
He claimed the grant of cash reward to policemen for every criminal they killed was tantamount to debasing and demeaning the dignity of an individual as a human being and a disrespect for human rights.
Osmeña, the complaint said, violated the anti-graft law as his cash reward system induced and enticed members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to allegedly kill any person involved with illegal drugs while supposedly in the pursuit of legitimate police operations but in the absence of due process of law.
He also pointed that by accepting the cash reward from the mayor, the policemen also violated a 1968 Memorandum Circular that prohibits officials or employees of the government from receiving cash rewards for the arrest, surrender or killing of criminals.
Alcover yesterday said he planned to file another complaint against the mayor, this time intended to spur an investigation into Osmeña’s source of funds for the cash rewards.
Soon after he was proclaimed the winner in the city’s mayoral race last May, Osmeña launched a high-profile anti-drug campaign by providing policemen with cash incentives of P50,000 for every criminal killed and another P10,000 for each wounded criminal.
Over a period of two months, Osmeña had given out to individual or group of policemen a total of P625,000 as reward money for 12 slain suspected drug dealers who operated in the city.
Osmeña, however, stopped giving the cash reward last month to protest the relief of key police officers involved in his anti-drug campaign.
As to the appointments of deputy mayors, Alcover said Osmeña violated both the Revised Penal Code and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, saying that such appointments were unlawful and beyond the scope of his authority as mayor.
He emphasized that Osmeña’s appointment of deputy mayors from among the city councilors was an encroachment on the functions of a coequal branch of the government, which violates the principle of separation of powers and was thereby unconstitutional.
“Iyang gi-appoint og deputy mayors ang mga konsehales sa BO-PK then naa man na sa balaod nga once elected, dili na nimo ma-appoint as appointed official kay gipili gud na sila sa katawhan para sa konseho,” Alcover said. “Unsa ma’y role nimo sa konseho? Ang role nimo sa konseho is to balance the power of the executive pero kung imong tagaan og executive power ang usa ka konsehal, unsa pa’y iyang i-balance nga part na man siya sa executive hinuon? So mao na, violation na. Illegal na iyang gihimo nga gi-appoint niya ang mga elected councilors as deputy mayors.”
(He appointed the councilors of BO-PK as deputy mayors when the law clearly states that once elected, they cannot take on appointive posts since they were elected as councilors. What is the role of the council? The role of the council is to balance the power of the executive, but if you give executive power to a councilor, what is there to balance since he is already part of the executive branch? Hence, there is a violation. It is illegal to appoint elected councilors as deputy mayors.)
Moreover, he said, the decision of Osmeña to also appoint his wife as a deputy mayor was also an act of nepotism.
After Osmeña assumed office, he appointed Margot as deputy mayor for the city’s finance, tourism, and social services.
He also named as deputy mayors Councilors Eugenio Gabuya Jr. for sports amusement and youth, Pagcor funds, and urban poor and housing; Joy Augustus Young for education and scholarship; Sisinio Andales for peace and order and labor; Mary Ann delos Santos for Cebu City Medical Center, Guba Hospital, and City Health Department; and Alvin Arcilla for markets, agriculture, and infrastructure.
Alcover’s last complaint highlighted Osmeña’s alleged non-observance of the legal mandate for flag-raising and flag-lowering ceremonies under Republic Act 8491 or the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines.
In his complaint, Alcover argued that Osmeña’s order that flag raising and lowering ceremonies will only be done once a month is a violation of Republic Act 8491, which orders the observance of flag-raising ceremony every Monday morning and flag-lowering ceremony every Friday afternoon.
“His forgoing acts create the wrong impression in the minds of the whole local bureaucracy as well as the youth of Cebu City, especially young students, that there is nothing wrong in foregoing flag raising and flag lowering ceremonies, despite being mandated by the law,” Alcover said in his complaint.
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