Another dismissal against Iloilo Mayor Mabilog over towing deal

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DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman issued another dismissal order against Iloilo mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service over an alleged anomalous towing services contract with his own firm.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the second dismissal after he was found guilty of entering a contract with his own firm through a dummy.

In October last year, the ombudsman ordered Mabilog’s dismissal from service for serious dishonesty in connection with his alleged questionable wealth amounting P8.9 million. The ombudsman said Mabillog failed to properly account his sources of wealth in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth in 2012 and 2013.

The first dismissal order was implemented by the Department of Interior and Local Government on October 30. Mabilog was replaced by then Iloilo City vice mayor Jose Espinosa III.

In November, the Court of Appeals junked Mabilog’s petition seeking to nullify the ombudsman’s first dismissal order.

The second dismissal order stemmed from a memorandum of agreement entered by the city government in April 2015 with 3L Towing Services for the clamping of the vehicles to be towed.

The MOA was in connection with the Sangguniang Panglungsod or city council’s approval in April 2014 of an ordinance requiring the use of a wheel towing clamp as part of its towing operation.

But  city councilor Plaridel Nava II,  chairman of the committee on transportation, accused Mabilog of actually owning 3L and claimed that the mayor had a direct financial interest in the MOA.

Nava revealed  that it was Mabilog who truly owned 3L, and the company’s named proprietress Leny Garcia was just serving as its dummy owner.

– 17 February 2015, the SP approved a resolution authorizing Mabilog to sign a MOA  between the local government and 3L Towing Services for the implementation of the city’s clamping ordinance. Under the MOA, 70% of the fines collected would be given to 3L while the remaining 30% would be the LGU’s share. The 70-30 sharing scheme for the first five years will be followed by a 65-35 sharing scheme for the next five years.

– 24 February 2015, the SP passed a Resolution confirming the MOA. Three days later, Mabilog wrote an urgent letter to the SP informing the body of the suspension of the MOA due to “some technical issues.”

-19 May 2015, 3L proprietor, Leny Garcia, wrote Mabilog and offered to withdraw from the MOA “amidst the legal issues confronting it and submit to legal processes prescribed by laws on government bidding and procurement.”

Nava narrated that Mabilog instructed him to look for someone they could trust to stand as a dummy owner and to estimate the cost and expenditures for the proposed business venture on clamping services.

The Ombudsman Decision stated that “it is undisputed that respondent entered into a MOA, on behalf of the city government with 3L for the implementation of the city’s clamping ordinance without compliance with any procurement process required under the relevant law for the selection of 3L.”

The Ombudsman gave no credence to Mabilog’s contention that Garcia’s withdrawal from the MOA excused him from administrative liability. “The obvious purpose of such withdrawal was to cancel the MOA in an attempt to avoid further scrutiny considering that complainant Manuel Mejorada had already filed the complaint-affidavit almost a month prior to Garcia’s letter of withdrawal,” the Decision added.

Ombudsman Morales also directed the Field Investigation Office of the OMB-Visayas to conduct an immediate fact-finding investigation against Nava for a possible administrative case against him “as he openly admitted against his own interest, that he was the one who approached Garcia to serve as respondent’s dummy, upon the latter’s earlier instruction, to look for someone they could trust.”

The anti-graft law prohibits public officials from directly or indirectly having financing or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the constitution or by any law from having any interest.

But since Mabilog was no longer in service, the new dismissal order is convertible to a fine equivalent to his salary for one year as city mayor.

Aside from his dismissal, the ombudsman has also ordered Mabilog’s perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of his retirement benefits and cancellation of his civil service eligibility.-Editha Z. Caduaya/

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