Ombudsman dismisses graft complaint vs Surigao Norte town mayor

The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the complaint against Mayor Sheila Mae Orquina-Cebedo of Bacuag town in Surigao del Norte and two other respondents for alleged violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The five-page resolution issued by the Ombudsman dated June 15 but only received by the parties last Thursday said Cebedo, municipal engineer Panfilo Ochavez, and contractor Robert Yuipco could not be held liable for any violation of RA 3019.

Lawyer Mario F. Sison, regional director of National Bureau of Investigation-Caraga filed the complaint against the three respondents on October 30, 2014.

His complaint alleged that the covered court in Barangay Payapag, Bacuag was constructed without conforming to the approved plans and specifications.

He said that based on the project inspection report of the Commission on Audit-Caraga the end portion of every truss beyond the roof beam was made of an angle bar instead of a channel bar.

He added the project was completed on March 28, 2008 and turned over a day before the completion.

But Yuipco maintained that the project followed the approved specifications and that COA’s report is not reliable saying it was made six years after completion.

The contractor added that had he been informed of any defect, he could have undertaken repairs within the period of the contractor’s warranty.

In their counter-affidavit, Cebedo and Ochavez said that it has been more than six years since the project was completed, inspected, audited and utilized by the general public.

They cited that since COA did not have any adverse audit findings at the time, they believed that everything was in order.

“This office rules that there is no probable cause to hold respondents liable for any of the provisions of the R.A. 3019. There is no allegation nor evidence to prove that the contract entered by respondents Cebedo and Ochavez was manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government. Instead, it is clear that COA finds the contract cost reasonable,” the Ombudsman said.

The resolution was signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales; Ma Faith Llanito-Fresbitero, graft investigation and prosecution officer; and Marco Anacleto P. Buena, officer in-charge for Evaluation and Investigation Bureau.

Cebedo said she heaved a sigh of relief after she got the news.

“Ang matarong mopatiugbabaw gayod hilabina kon politically-motivated. Kadtong nagbiay-biay sa akoa, karma lang gyod ang ila, (The righteous will prevail especially if it’s politically motivated. Those who humiliated me will get their karma)” Cebedo told MindaNews over the weekend via Facebook. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)