CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The local government-ran sports facility here can never be considered private property despite the ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman upholding the argument of two public officials whose nepotism and graft charges were dismissed by the anti-graft body, according to Mayor Oscar Moreno.
The sports complex, located along Velez St., is jointly managed and operated by the provincial government, city government, and the Department of Education.
“How can it be a privately owned entity? The land is owned by the government, and it is elementary in land ownership that the owner of the land is also the owner of all the improvements thereon,” Moreno said, referring to the sports complex.
The mayor argued that Misamis Oriental Integrated Sports Complex (Moisc) could not be a private enterprise because it has not been incorporated and “it has no separate personality.”
“It (Moisc) is not a corporation. It’s very basic: a corporation has its own separate identity distinct from the personalities of its owners. But this sports council is not a corporation,” Moreno said.
He said the provincial government is the one running Moisc given that a good portion of the sports facility is owned by it.
“Although there is a council, which includes the city government and the Department of Education, that does not make it private,” he added.
The argument surfaced again after a certain Ernesto Molina, who used to work at city hall, accused Emano and Elipe of committing nepotism relating to the operation of the Moisc.
He filed the cases against Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano and his brother-in-law and incumbent provincial board member President Elipe.
The charges were filed on Sept. 29, 2017, a few months after Emano appointed Elipe as general manager of the Misamis (Moisc), sometime in 2016.
Molina said the two are relatives.
Elipe, former city councilor of Cagayan de Oro, was married to Emano’s sister Nadya Emano-Elipe, a current member of the city council.
Aside from nepotism, the two officials were also charged with violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials, Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code (Unlawful Appointments), malversation, grave misconduct, and grave abuse of authority.
In his counter-affidavit, Emano denied committing any of the offenses saying Moisc operates as a private enterprise since 1976, “as such, it has no government accountable forms, not subject to audit by the Commission on Audit, and does not receive funding of any form from the national or local governments.”
Elipe, in his counter-affidavit, echoed Emano’s defense that the sports center is a private entity as it “has no obligation to remit any of its collections to the government nor are its procurements subject to R.A. 9184.”
Republic Act 9184 refers to the Government Procurement Reform Act.
But Moreno, for his part, has questioned the Ombudsman’s six-page ruling issued on July 27, 2018, and signed by graft investigation and prosecution officers Rosemil Bañaga and Hilde dela Cruz-Likit and deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo Elman.
“The charge of nepotism or unlawful appointment against respondents hinged on whether the subject sports center is public in character. The evidence on record, however, does not satisfactorily establish this fact,” read a part of the Ombudsman’s decision.
While the land on which the complex stands belongs to the government, “the records do not point with clear certainty whether it is a government-run (sic) enterprise,” anti-graft court added.
Moreno was tagged by Emano and Elipe as the brains behind the charges against them.
In a statement, Emano said: “This is the plan of the Moreno camp to get even with his more than 100 graft cases which they blamed and accused me as the mastermind, where in fact his cases are the results of his own actions.”
Moreno is facing numerous graft cases during his terms as former Misamis Oriental governor and his present position as city mayor. He is now on his last term. (davaotoday.com))