Ombud junks landfill case vs. Mayor Bing, Cong. Greg, 11 others

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BACOLOD CITY – The Office of the Ombudsman has junked the criminal and administrative cases filed against officials here, including Congressman Greg Gasataya, Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia, and 11 department heads on the purchase of a seven-hectare sanitary landfill in the village of Felisa.

The decision, signed by the Ombudsman May, this year was received only recently by City Hall, Bayatan said.

The other officials were former City Accountant Eduardo Ravena, City Assessor Maphilindo Polvora, former Secretary to the Mayor Goldwyn Nifras, former City Engineers Teresita Guadalupe and Noel Impreso, City Government Assistant Department Head Josephus Cerna, City Treasurer Annabelle Badajos, Environment and Natural Resources Head Maximo Sillo, Office of the Managemant and Audit- Services Officer-in-Charge Ricardo Dahil-Dahil, City Planning and Development Coordinator Lemuel Reynaldo, and Department of Public Services Assistant Head Efren Canlas.

They were charged for the alleged violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019, as amended, and grave misconduct and act prejudicial to the public service.

The complainants Sara Esguerra and Othello Ramos alleged that the purchase of the property owned by Dynasty Agricultural Corp. (DAC) was exorbitant in its rate of P340 per square meter or a total of P23.8 million for the solid waste facility.

Esguerra and Othello said the zonal valuation of the property was only P100 per square meter.

The Ombudsman dismissed the criminal complaint, finding no probable cause to indict respondents for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019, as amended.

In its earlier decision on September 10, 2009, the Ombudsman also junked the administrative complaint, exonerating respondents from any administrative liability.

City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan said there was no overpricing on the purchase of the property in Barangay Felisa.

He added that in 2008, the city of Bacolod had to comply with the requirement of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to have a sanitary landfill.

“The said property was properly qualified by DENR as suitable for solid waste management to absorb the waste of the whole city,” Bayatan pointed out.

“It was really necessary for us to buy the sanitary landfill at that time because if not, the whole Bacolod City will rot,” Polvora for his part added.

Meanwhile, the City Legal Office will use the said decision of the Ombudsman as a ground to dismiss the overpricing case on the same issue pending before the Commission on Audit.

Bayatan said their office will file a manifestation and motion for early resolution of the said case this week.

“We (have) high hopes that our appeal to COA will be favored by the Central Office,” he added.

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