Former Naga City Mayor Valdemar Chiong acquitted over permit mess
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The anti-graft court cleared former Naga City Mayor Valdemar Chiong on allegations that he violated the anti-graft and corrupt practices law in relation to issuing a permit to a petroleum company.
The Sandiganbayan’s sixth division, in a 22-page decision promulgated on December 4, 2020, ruled that the prosecution failed to prove and present evidence that Chiong give Petronas unlawfully issued a conditional mayor’s permit.
To recall, cases were filed against Chiong, accusing him of “unlawful” issuance of a mayor’s permit to Petronas Energy Philippines, a wholesaler of liquefied petroleum gas, on April 7, 2014, despite the company’s failure to submit a fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC).
The decision by the Sandiganbayan was signed by Associate Justice Karl Miranda, and concurred by Associate Justices Sarah Jane Fernandez and Kevin Narce Vivero.
The anti-graft court found out that there were no basis on the prosecution’s claims that Chiong acted in ‘bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence when he issued the permit’, and giving unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to Petronas when doing so.
They added that Petronas had a valid FSIC when the former Naga City mayor gave the company the Conditional Mayor’s Permit.
“The Prosecution failed to present any evidence proving that the BFP submitted to the local government of Naga City, Cebu a report and recommendation relative to Fire Code violations of Petronas or the non-issuance of FSIC to it,” portions of the decision’s ruling stated.
The Sandiganbayan also ordered to lift the hold departure order made against Chiong.
Naga City is a fifth-class city located approximately 21 kilometers southeast of Cebu City, the province’s capital.
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