Baybay City mayor cries foul over fake dismissal
BAYBAY CITY, Philippines — A few days before the May 9 elections, a document saying incumbent Baybay City Mayor Carmen Loreto-Cari has been dismissed by the Ombudsman started to circulate among residents in the city.
The 5-page resolution orders Cari and her son, Vice Mayor Michael Cari to be immediately disqualified from holding public office after the alleged embezzlement of P7.9 million ($167,745)* worth of government money intended to buy medicines.
The Office of the Ombudsman, however, denied that such a resolution has been released or served.
A copy of the resolution obtained by Rappler shows it is allegedly signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer M. Clemente.
In a statement, Cari denied that she and her son are disqualified: “For your information, the power to disqualify a city mayor rests on two offices: the Sandiganbayan and the Comelec."
The incumbent mayor also attached documents from anti-graft court Sandiganbayan certifying that they are not “accused or a defendant in any case filed in this Court," and from the local Comelec saying it has not received such a decision from the Ombudsman, “thus, continues to be in the list of official candidates for Mayor/Vice Mayor of Baybay City in the coming elections.”
Photos of the resolution first surfaced online from supporters of Cari’s opponent for the mayoralty, businesswoman Marilou “Malot” Galenzoga-Baligod. Photocopies of the document were also being distributed by Baligod’s supporters on the ground. (READ: Retired prof runs against 2 'goliaths' for Baybay City mayoral seat)
Malot is the wife of PDAF scam lawyer Levito Baligod, who is currently running for senator.
The Baligods declined to comment as to how the fake documents were obtained.
However, in a Facebook post dated May 8, Baligod questioned the documents Cari showed: “Why do you keep repeating that you are not disqualified by Comelec or Sandiganbayan? Why not give a certification from the Ombudsman that you don’t have cases there?”
She then shared a Philstar story dated November 6, 2012, when Vertillano Relevo, Agustin Bacusmo and Oscar Balan filed the case before the Office of the Ombudsman in Cebu City.
The complainants are currently candidates for vice mayor, and councilors under Baligod.
In the statement, Cari shot back at Baligod: “Let us not forget what they did on June 30, 2013, when they threw (rocks) and destroyed our city hall.”
Baligod ran and lost in 2013, in a hotly contested race that was rife with violence, riots, harassment, and even an assassination attempt.
Cari and her politically-entrenched family were unchallenged in Baybay for 39 years until Baligod ran against them in the 2013 elections.
Cari is with the ruling Liberal Party, while Baligod is with Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
“I call everyone to watch and pray for a peaceful and orderly election,” Cari said. - Rappler.com
Jed Cortes is one of Rappler's lead Movers in Eastern Visayas.
*$1 = P47.10