Abellanosa: Ombud dismissal ‘not final’
The Ombudsman-Visayas order to dismiss him from public service for conflict of interest isn’t final, Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa of Cebu City’s south district said yesterday.
Abellanosa said his lawyers Eduardo Felipe and Lucas Carpio Jr. already filed a motion for reconsideration (MR) “to clarify certain points that the (Ombudsman) investigator may have overlooked.”
He was given a copy of the Ombudsman decision on the criminal and administrative cases filed against him in 2012 by Cebu City Hall employee Philip Banguiran two weeks ago.
Abellanosa was found guilty of grave misconduct for conflict of interest after his Asian College of Technology (ACT) received the bulk of Cebu City Hall’s scholarship funding assistance.
The administrative complaint was filed when Abellanosa was still a Cebu city councilor.
The city has so far paid P51 million to ACT but the school still has collectibles worth P119.7 million.
The Ombudsman-Visayas decision penned by Paul Elmer Clemente and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered Abellanosa’s dismissal from government service.
But since Abellanosa was elected to Congress in 2013, the dismissal order was endorsed to the Congress or its committee on ethics for appropriate action.
“Ang Congress dili sad na basta basta mo implement ug unfinished nga (Congress won’t just implement an unfinished) ruling,” said
Abellanosa in an interview yesterday shortly before he was to attend a session of the House of Representatives.
If his motion is denied, Abellanosa said there are other “avenues” where he could seek relief as part of ‘protecting the rights of an elected official.”
In a press statement, Abellanosa said his lawyers are questioning the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman-Visayas to look into the complaint which should have been filed with the House of Representatives.
“The Ombudsman Act is clear that it has disciplinary authority over elective and appointive officials except impeachable officials, members of Congress, and the Judiciary,” Abellanosa said.
He said his election as congressman makes the complaint moot and academic.
Abellanosa insisted that he didn’t gain any material benefits from the scholarship program since his school is a non-stock non-profit corporation.
“There can be no misconduct here and no liability for helping improve the chances of the less fortunate students at success, and for following the guidelines provided in the Local Government Code,” he said.
He said “any liability could pertain only to the agreement of Cebu City with Asian College of Technology International Educational Foundation (ACTIEF) “for alleged violation of Sec. 3 (i) of RA 3019” or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“Together with other accredited schools, ACTIEF was required by executive order of the Mayor to accept Cebu City scholars, who were armed only with scholarship vouchers and who were at liberty to choose the accredited school they wanted to enroll in.”
He said he acted in good faith and in lawful performance of his duties when he allowed the enrollment of city scholars in his school.He said ACT has been giving out scholarships to city residents ahead of the city’s scholarship program.
Under the program, which started in 2010, Cebu City allots P10,000 per scholar which is paid directly to a college of his or her choice. ACT decided to put up a P10,000 counterpart for each scholar enrolled. About 2,000 scholars have graduated from ACT.
Banguiran said he was happy with the Ombudsman-Visayas ruling.
“I expected the ruling (to be favorable). That’s basically the reason why I filed the case. I hope this will be the start to improve our government scholarship program in Cebu City,” he said.
The 40-year old resident of barangay Inayawan has worked as an administrative aide in Cebu City Hall for two years now.
The Visayas Ombudsman said the Aguinaldo Doctrine won’t spare Abellanosa from administrative sanctions.
Under the Aguinaldo Doctrine, a reelected public official is spared from any administrative liability for acts committed during his prior term if he gets reelected.
“Respondent’s invoking the Aguinaldo doctrine has no leg to stand on. This is so because the Aguinaldo Doctrine applies only when a public is re-elected to the same position,” dela Peña said.
“Respondent (Abellanosa), then a Cebu City councilor, was elected to a new or another position as congressman in the south district of Cebu City,” he added.
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