CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY,Philippines — Vindicated was how two Misamis Oriental provincial government officials described the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman who recently dismissed the nepotism case and several graft cases against them.
The cases against incumbent Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano, who’s seeking reelection, and his ally, provincial board member President Elipe, stemmed from a complaint filed by one Ernesto Molina who accused the officials of nepotism and other charges.
Elipe, who’s running for the vice gubernatorial position under the Padayon Pilipino-Hugpong ng Pagbabago coalition, is Emano’s brother-in-law. He is married to Emano’s sister and city councilor Nadya Emano-Elipe.
Aside from nepotism, they were both charged with violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code (Unlawful Appointments), Malversation, Grave Misconduct, and Grave Abuse of Authority.
In his affidavit, Molina alleged that Emano committed an irregularity when he appointed Elipe as the general manager of the Misamis Oriental Integrated Sports Complex (Moisc) in 2016.
The appointment, Molina said, was “nepotic since respondents Emano and Elipe are relatives by affinity within the second civil degree.”
But Emano, in his counter-affidavit, reasoned that he did not commit any offense as the sports complex is not government-owned, although the facility is being jointly managed by local governments of Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro, and the Department of Education.
Also, Emano said the sports center operates as a private enterprise since 1976, and, 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 government.
In its six-page decision, the Ombudsman-Mindanao Station said the complainant has failed to prove that Emano committed nepotism.
“First, the charge of nepotism or unlawful appointment against respondents hinged on whether subject sports center is public in character. The evidence on record, however, do not satisfactorily establish this fact,” reads a part the Ombudsman’s ruling signed by Rosemil Bañaga, the court’s graft investigation and prosecution officer.
“There is likewise no proof pointing that respondents committed a violation of the anti-graft law or that they malversed some public funds,” the Ombudsman said.
“In fine, given the in sufficiency of evidence against respondents, none of the present charges against them, criminal or administrative, could stand,” it added.
The ruling was issued by the Ombudsman on July 27, 2018, but Emano said they received the order only last month. Copies of the decision were given by the governor’s office to reporters during a press conference Monday, April 8.
In a press conference on Monday, April 8, Emano and Elipe said the unfounded and baseless charges filed against them were all part of political harassment of their enemies to destroy their integrity and reputation as effective and efficient public servants.
“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,” Emano said, referring to incumbent city mayor Oscar Moreno.
Moreno, former member of the Emano-led regional party Padayon Pilipino, is a re-electionist and on his last term.
For his part, Elipe said: “The move of our rivals in politics in the city to implicate me on the charges which I never did is a political harassment because I have been vocal in disclosing the so many irregularities that they are doing in city hall.”
“This decision has vindicated us,” Elipe added.
As of this writing, Moreno’s office has yet to issue a statement to answer Emano’s accusation. (davaotoday.com)