CA junks 24 administrative cases vs Cagayan de Oro’s Oscar Moreno

CAMIGUIN, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has cleared Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno of the 24 administrative complaints filed against him when he was governor of Misamis Oriental.  

Cagayan de Oro City Information Officer Maricel Rivera announced this on Friday, June 21.  

The complaints were filed by current Misamis Oriental Governor Vicente Yvgeny Emano, based on a special audit she requested in 2016 on the rental of heavy equipment during her predecessor’s time. 

The heavy equipment were used in road repair works in Sitio Lantad, Balingasag town, which was the communist New People’s Army’s center of power. 

During his governorship, Moreno was credited for ending NPA dominance in the province by providing roads and basic services to the hinterlands. His “The Lantad Experience” program earned the Misamis Oriental the Galing Pook, the national government’s award for excellence in local government innovation. 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines also declared the province insurgency-free status during his time in the capitol.   

The complaints filed with the Office of the Ombudsman alleged that the rental of the heavy equipment did not follow the bidding process, although the respondents said they resorted to other forms of procurement. 

Moreno and other capitol officials were charged for serious dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public service.

The 33-page decision by CA associate justices Victoria Isabel Paredes, Marlene Gonzales Sison, and Maria Elisa Sempio Diy approved the respondents’ petition for certiorari. 

“The existence of conspiracy cannot be presumed, it must be proven through clear and convincing evidence,” the justices said in the decision dated May 15, 2019. City hall released the information only on Friday.

The justices said the acts of the respondents did not, in any way, tarnish the image and integrity of their respective office. Thus, they cannot be found guilty of the offense. 

The decision also clears former provincial bids and awards committee members Elsie Lopoy, Rolando Pacuribot, Elmer Wabe, Leemar Tinagan, Divina Bade, and Patrick Gabutina. 

“The petition for certiorari and prohibition are hereby GRANTED, and the assailed decision issued by the Office of the Ombudsman on various dates finding petitioners guilty of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the administrative complaints against them are DISMISSED,” read the CA decision.

In a press conference on Friday, Moreno said: “The Court of Appeals saw the merit of the case where they said that there is no grave abuse of authority nor misconduct, there is not even dishonesty and simple misconduct.”  

He added: “The CA even said that the Ombudsman acted grave of discretion in relying only on the audit findings as if the findings were conclusive. The Ombudsman should have conducted its own investigation.”  

“Nothing is sweeter than the vindication that they dismissed [the case] based on the merit,” Moreno said. “We can now put these things behind us, its already done.”  

The administrative cases filed against Moreno were the biggest crisis he faced, as these threatened to remove him from his post as mayor. Rappler.com