Ombudsman junks criminal complaints against city officials over donated chickens in 2020
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City dismissed the criminal complaints against Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia and Cebu City South District Rep. Eduardo “Edu” Rama Jr. over the alleged usurpation and abuse of authority on the donated dressed chicken issue at the height of the pandemic.
In a 19-page joint resolution penned by graft investigation and prosecution officer Ryan Pañales, dated April 20, 2022, the Anti-graft Office said the charges filed against the two officials alongside Eugenio Faelnar, the former chief executive assistant of the late Mayor Edgardo Labella, by Jonel Salceda, a resident of Barangay Labangon, lacked probable cause and substantial evidence.
The resolution was approved by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon and OIC Office of the Ombudsman Cornelio Somido.
Donated chickens issue
Garcia and Rama faced charges of Violation of Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) or the Usurpation of official functions for allegedly accepting 17,000 donated chickens from a private company in May 2020.
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These chickens were allegedly sold to city residents at a very low price.
Another allegation was that Rama and Garcia usurped the authority of the late Mayor Labella by accepting the donated chickens without his authority.
No probable cause
The Ombudsman, however, maintained that there was no probable cause to indict the respondents for violating Sec. 3 of Republic Act 3019 or for Usurpation of Authority or Official Functions.
The Ombudsman maintained that no probable cause existed to indict respondents for either Violation of Sec. 3 of RA 3019 or for Usurpation of Authority or Official Functions under Article 177 of the RPC.
“Not having successfully established respondents’ alleged acts, the second and third elements of the offense are certainly wanting in the case…Clearly, the charge for Violation of Section 3 of R.A 3019, as amended, against respondents has no leg to stand on,” read the court decision.
Not proved by substantial evidence
The Anti-graft Office also said Salcedo had not proved by substantial evidence that the three officials were guilty of abuse of authority.
“In the instant case, the complainant has not delivered the burden of proof required to support his allegations. The document presented by the complainant such as the Cebu City Council’s official receipts, sworn affidavits, unsigned Deed of Donation, and letter dated October 14, 2020, are clearly bereft of factual anchorage to reasonably convince this Office that respondents, without authority, accepted the donated chickens and sold them for profit to the residents of Cebu City,” the decision added.
The graft office also said that Salcedo’s witnesses did not have personal knowledge of the acts attributed against the three officials as they “merely relied on information coming from their neighbors, customers, news, and social media.”
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