Ombudsman junks graft, grave misconduct raps vs Lapu-Lapu Mayor Chan
LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman Visayas has dismissed the graft and grave misconduct charges filed by Lapu-Lapu City lone district Representative Paz Radaza against Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan.
The case was about the withdrawal of the criminal case for Estafa which the Lapu-Lapu City government filed against Emeline Dumayak of SSVF-ADD Trading.
On June 7, 2019, the city government filed a case against Dumayak, after it got the authority from the city council.
This was after the city government found out that the SSVF-ADD Trading, a sole proprietorship owned by Dumayak, which was awarded the project in 2015 to repair a road grader at contract cost of 3,599,000, had already been disbursed the advance payment of P3,239,100 or 90 percent of the total cost of the repair.
However, the city government found out on February 14, 2017 that despite the disbursement of the advance payment, there was no accomplishment in the repair of the road grader.
And so the Commission on Audit disallowed this act or the disbursement of the P3,239,100.
In the investigation of the City Attorney, it was even found out that SSVF-ADD Trading claimed the 90 percent completion of the repair although there had been no accomplishment in the repair.
Upon notifying the contractor, SSVF-ADD Trading sent a notice to terminate the whole contract. Due to this, the city government sent a demand letter to the contractor asking for a refund of the amount involved plus legal interests.
The contractor also requested the city that they would be allowed to pay the amount in installments, but this was also denied by the city government, which, instead, asked for full payment within 15 days.
But on July 12, 2019, Radaza alleged that Chan, who was then the newly elected city mayor, filed a motion to withdraw the criminal complaint against Dumayak. Moreover, the withdrawal of the case was allegedly made without having been authorized by the city council.
A motion, however, was done to conduct a reinvestigation of the case.
“Complainant adds that the said withdrawal of the Estafa case against Emeline A. Dumayak of SSVF-ADD Trading caused undue injury to the city government of Lapu-Lapu since the supposed action to recover the amount is now put on hold,” the joint resolution stated.
Chan, in his reply, pointed out that Dumayak should not only be the one to be prosecuted in this transaction. That is why he requested a reinvestigation and ordered the withdrawal of the case.
“Respondent consequently ordered the withdrawal of the case of Estafa against Ms. Dumayak with the end-goal of a reinvestigation and an eventual filing of a proper case not just against the involved contractor but against all other individuals involved in the transaction,” it added.
The reinvestigation, however, got delayed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
On December 3, 2020, the city filed a complaint again against Dumayak, but they already included Radaza, who was then the mayor when the transaction transpired, Rolando Duero, Basilides Tampus, Ernesto Imbong, and Jerome Jimenez. The case was filed before the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas.
The Ombudsman, in their joint resolution, has dropped the case against Chan due to a lack of substantial evidence.
The resolution added that the order of withdrawal of the Estafa case did not reflect any bias in favor of Dumayak, or anybody else.
“In fact, Ms. Dumayak is now confronted with another situation being one of the respondents in a case of similar nature and involving the same transaction filed by respondent with the Office of the Ombudsman on December 3, 2020,” the resolution further read.
With regard to the administrative charge for Grave Misconduct, the Ombudsman said that Chan did not commit intentional wrongdoing or a deliberate violation of the law when he withdrew the Estafa case and ordered a reinvestigation.
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