SunStar Cagayan de Oro
CAGAYAN DE ORO (5 Nov 2015) - The re-election bid of Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno may now be in question following an order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman dismissing Moreno from service and perpetually barring him from holding public office.
In a decision approved on October 6, 2015 and released yesterday, November 5, the Office of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found Mayor Moreno of having committed Grave Misconduct for entering into a settlement agreement with Ajinomoto Philippines without prior authorization from the City Council, in violation of Republic Act No. 7160 (The Local Government Code).
In a statement posted at the official website of the Office of the Ombudsman, Moreno was held liable for entering into a court agreement with Ajinomoto Philippines Corporation on August 2014, which allowed the latter to pay P300,000 instead of its original local business tax deficiency of P2.9 million.
The Office of the Ombudsman ruled that 'the approval of the agreement by the court cannot, in any way, legitimize the acts of Moreno.'
Glenn Banez, officer-in-charge of the City Treasurer's Office, was also dismissed together with Moreno.
Calling the decision "a serious miscarriage of justice," Moreno said the Ombudsman failed to take into account his counter-affidavit which he filed on April 20, 2015 through his and Banez's lawyer, Atty. Jonathan Pacuribot, in response to a case filed by former Taglimao village chief William Guialani in March this year.
"They (Office of the Ombudsman) missed out on my counter-affidavit and that is serious miscarriage of justice," Moreno said in a hastily-called press conference Thursday afternoon.
Moreno said he has yet to receive a copy of the Ombudsman decision, but said he has read the decision from 'other sources' and is aware of its contents.
"Ang order nag-ingon nga I have not filed my counter-affidavit sa reklamo (but) the truth of the matter is I have filed," he said.
Moreno also questioned the Ombudsman decision which he branded as "harsh, cruel, and excessive," saying the investigation failed to take into account his answer on Guialani's March complaint.
"I have filed my counter-affidavit well on time and in my counter-affidavit, it is very clear that I had no knowledge about the alleged settlement and I have not approved it. How could I be held liable for that," he said.
Moreno said he plans to file a motion for reconsideration as soon as he receives a copy of the Ombudsman decision and said he may ask the Court of Appeals for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the execution of the order.
Moreno's and Banez's troubles began after the latter reclassified Ajinomoto's product from 'essential' to 'non-essential' in an effort to enhance the city's revenue collection.
Banez noted that Ajinomoto's product was wrongly classified, depriving the city from collecting a higher tax rate.
In Moreno's counter-affidavit, which Moreno said was submitted to the Ombudsman, Moreno noted that Ajinomoto had been paying taxes from 2006-2011 based on the wrong classification and the P2.9-million covers the tax payment deficiency, surcharge, and interest of the corporation for the said period which could not be otherwise retroactively collected.
With the August 2014 settlement, Moreno's counter-affidavit notes that the company has agreed to the reclassification beginning on 2014.
The Ombudsman decision, however, pointed out that the actions of both Moreno and Banez were not allowed without a corresponding resolution from the City Council.