Ombudsman suspends Toledo City mayor Osmeña 

Toledo City Mayor John Henry Osmeña. Sourced photo

MANILA,  Philippines — The  Office of the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of Toledo City, Cebu Mayor Mayor John Henry Osmeña  after he was found guilty for grave abuse of authority.

This as the Sandiganbayan is set to try Osmeña  over six counts of graft.

The Ombudsman cited Osmeña for consistently refusing to release the quarterly real property tax shares of barangay Daanlungsod in Cebu.

Records showed barangay Daanglungson was supposed to receive a total of P17,733,264.80 as part of its RPT share from  the last two quarters of 2014 and for the fiscal year of 2015.

But Osmeña said there is a pending boundary dispute between Barangays Sangi and Daanlungsod and that there is an on-going case entitled “Barangay Sangi versus City of Toledo” pending before the Court of Appeals.

He further explained to the Ombudsman “it is his duty to protect government funds and properties. Thus when his attention was called on a pending case regarding ownership of the real properties involved in the boundary dispute between the two barangays, he only thought of protecting the city’s public funds.”

But Ombudsman  Conchita Carpio Morales in a Resolution approved on 09 August 2017, gave no credence to the defenses raised by Osmeña and stated that “the boundary dispute between the two barangays had long been settled.”

Records showed that a Decision was already issued by the Sangguniang Panlungsod on 01 August 2008 which became final and executory in 2011 after the Regional Trial Court denied the appeal of Barangay Sangi. Under the Local Government Code, “there is no question that the SP has the jurisdiction to settle or resolve boundary disputes.”

Morales pointed out “respondent’s bad faith becomes evident when despite the foregoing circumstances, [Osmeña], without basis, withheld the release of the real property tax shares of the BarangayDaanlungsod which caused the latter undue injury.”  She cited again the Local Government Code which provides that “the [RPT] share of each barangay shall be released, without need of any further action, directly to the barangaytreasurer on a quarterly basis within five days after the end of each quarter and shall not be subject to any liens or holdback or whatever purpose.”

The Ombudsman directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government to implement the suspension order. -Harold V. Pontongan/