HomeNewsOmbudsman dismisses Musa case vs Beng

Ombudsman dismisses Musa case vs Beng

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The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed a complaint for abuse of authority, oppression and violation of Republic Act 6713 filed by the former Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) against Mayor Beng Climaco for insufficiency of evidence.

In a 7-page joint resolution penned by Randolph Cadiogan Jr., Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on October 19, 2017, the investigating body ruled that the evidence submitted by Ismael Musa, former IPMR, for  Ombudsman Case M-C-16-0244 for violation of Section 3 (e) and (f) of RA 3019 (anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and Ombudsman Case M-C- 16-0305 for abuse of authority, oppression and violation of RA 6713 (the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employee) has “failed” and is “sorely wanting”.

July 5, 2016 has submitted to the Ombudsman his affidavit of complaint alleging that he was removed as the IPMR to the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) due to loss of confidence as stated in the Zamboanga City indigenous Peoples Council of Leaders resolution 8, series 2015 dated August 20, 2015. This resolution was affirmed with cancellation of his certificate of affirmation by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples – Regional Office 9 on January 26, 2016. Musa filed a motion for reconsideration (MFR) of the NCIP decision on February 10, 2016.

Musa claimed that the mayor furnished the offices of the Vice Mayor and Secretary to the SP copies of the NCIP decision with the instruction “for your information and appropriate action” while he has a pending motion for reconsideration while his MFR was pending.

Musa in his complaint pointed out that the instruction means that the mayor instructed the SP to remove him as IPMR stressing that the latter does not have the authority to order his removal as the IPMR. To this, the Ombudsman said it found no confluence of the essential elements necessary to hold the respondent-mayor liable for violation of section 3 (e) of RA 3019 as the “complainant failed to prove that the respondent acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence or that she was impelled by corrupt motives in furnishing the offices of the Vice mayor and the Secretary to the SP copies of the NCIP-9 decision”.

The Ombudsman also ruled that the complainant erred when he interpreted the statement “for your information and appropriate action” written on the respondent’s letters as the order directing the SP to enforce the NCIP-9 decision and remove him emphasizing that the statement simply means that the offices of the vice mayor and the secretary to the SP may do whatever action they may deem proper upon receipt of the NCIP-9 decision.

Musa also averred that the mayor deprived him of the privileges accorded to an IPMR claiming that several travel requests were denied by the respondent for no valid reason adding that the latter neglected or refused to act on his request for immediate reinstatement.  To this, the Ombudsman disagreed stating that the complainant’s evidence does not show that his travel requests were arbitrarily denied. “It is basic in the rule of evidence that bare allegations, unsubstantiated by evidence, are not equivalent to proof. In short, mere allegations are not evidence.”

The ombudsman added “the complainant is reminded that he has the burden to prove his allegations by convincing evidence to warrant the indictment of respondent. In this case, complainant failed to discharge this burden.”

The Ombudsman likewise found nothing in the records that would give it any reasonable ground to believe that the respondent violated section 3 (f) of RA 3019. “Complainant failed to prove that respondent neglected or refused, without sufficient justification, to act on any matter pending before her for the purpose of favoring her own interest, or giving undue advantage in favor of any interested party, or discriminating against complainants.”

To prove its point, the Ombudsman cited the respondent’s reply to the complainant’s demand for reinstatement in her letter dated Feb. 23, 2016 whereby the respondent-mayor “sufficiently explained to the complainant that he should demand his reinstatement from the proper public official as she had nothing to do with his removal as IPMR.” “It bears stressing that the standard of culpability imposed by section 3 of RA 3019 is quite high, and in this case, is insufficiently quantified by the evidence presented by complainant,” the Ombudsman added.

In her counter-affidavit dated October 10, 2016, the mayor denied the charges claiming that she simply furnished a copy of the NCIP to the offices of the Vice mayor and the Secretary to the SP and that the statement “for your information and appropriate action” is merely a pro-forma statement written on almost all correspondence coming from her office. She averred that such acts do not make her liable of abuse of authority, oppression, violation of RA 6713 and violation of section 3 (e) of RA 3019 adding that there is no evidence that would show that she arbitrarily denied complainant’s travel requests.

The mayor also maintained in her counter-affidavit that she should not be held liable for violation of section 3 (f) of RA 3019 because she replied to complainant’s letter dated Feb. 22, 2016 via the letter dated Feb. 23, 2016 adding further that she is not authorized to grant complainant’s request for reinstatement as the IPMR for the SP of the city.  (City Hall press release)