Leonardia, 2 others cleared anew by Ombudsman of criminal, admin charges

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Another two cases down.

This time, the criminal and administrative cases involved an allegation that, way back in 2016, soon after the Leonardia administration returned to the Bacolod City Government,  then executive assistant Eduardo Ravena solicited a 12% commission (commonly referred to as “SOP”), for himself and in behalf of City Mayor Evelio Leonardia and city legal officer Atty. Joselito Bayatan, as a pre-condition for approving the payment claim of Penjan Construction and Supplies, a sole proprietorship of Catherine Gayondato.

The cases docketed as OMB-V-C-18-0660 and OMB-V-A-18-0727 were, however, not filed by Catherine Gayondato, the proprietor of Penjan Construction and Supplies.  Instead, it was filed by Edgar Cadagat, Antonio Wong and Nemesio Demafelis, who presented themselves as sub-contractors of Gayondato in supplying the city government, then under the Puentevella administration, with 6,800 cubic meters of filling materials worth P3.7 million.

“Right from the start, we found this case to be despicable.  Complainants demanded that we perform illegal acts, and when we refused to do so, they twisted the facts and fabricated allegations in an attempt to discredit and get back at us,” respondent Leonardia said.

“It was a conspiracy to escape the 2016 COMELEC election ban and cover-up what, apparently, was partly a case of ‘ghost delivery’ that they were trying to perpetrate,” Leonardia added.

Leonardia further commented that, “This was another clear case of dirty politicking where these well-known allies of that former Bacolod city mayor would not stop attempting to besmirch our reputations even while they themselves are trying to defraud the government.”

The criminal case alleged corrupt acts tantamount to bribery in violation of Sections 3 (b) and (f) of R.A. No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), as amended, while the administrative case was for alleged Grave Misconduct.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires dismissed both the criminal and administrative complaints last January 7, 2020 upon the unanimous recommendation of officials of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas.

The Joint Resolution of the Ombudsman took note that complainants Cadagat, Wong, and Demafelis dismally failed to prove their allegation of the “SOP” solicitation made by Ravena, or that Leonardia delayed, without justification, the payment of Gayondato’s claim, which complainants pursued in her behalf as her sub-contractors, because he was allegedly waiting for their agreement to the “SOP” demanded by Ravena.

On the other hand, respondents satisfactorily proved that the transaction was illegal and void from the start, that there were strong legal justifications for the refusal of Leonardia to pay the questionable claim, and that all the requirements in processing such a claim were undertaken in good faith by respondents.