Sonny O. to undergo Sandiganbayan trial
Suspended Toledo City Mayor John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña will be tried at the Sandiganbayan on charges of grave abuse of authority.
On its website, the Sandiganbayan announced last April 27 that its Third Division is assigned to deliberate the criminal charges filed against Osmeña.
The charges stemmed from the mayor’s refusal to disclose the quarterly real property tax (RPT) shares of barangays Daanlungsod and Sangi in Toledo City which supposedly violated Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The administrative aspect of the case also allowed the Ombudsman to impose a one-year suspension on Osmeña last September 2017.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said they found probable cause to charge the mayor and former senator with six counts of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Lawyer Inocencio de la Cerna, a member of Osmeña’s legal team, said they have yet to receive a notice for the trial.
“Mayor Osmeña has already filed a petition for review with the CA (Court of Appeals), and we will file before the Sandiganbayan a motion to hold in abeyance the issuance of the arrest warrant pending resolution with the CA,” De la Cerna said in a text message.
In a counter-affidavit filed at the Ombudsman, Osmeña said he withheld the real property tax shares of the two barangays in Toledo City located 45 kilometers southwest of Cebu City due to a boundary dispute between them.
But Morales said in her resolution that the boundary dispute between the two barangays “had long been settled.”
She cited a 2008 decision by the Toledo City Council that became final and executory in 2011 after the Regional Trial Court denied Barangay Sangi’s appeal.
Last March 20, Osmeña was ordered by Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Ryan Alvin Acosta of the Office of the President to answer allegations raised by a certain Elmer Canillo.
The mayor supposedly authorized the acquisition of brand-new vehicles, properties to build a sports complex and security cameras as well as hiring a private service provider to haul garbage in Toledo City without authority from the Toledo City Council.
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