Iloilo City

Ombudsman clears Iloilo City mayor in ex-city health official’s coercion complaint

Joseph B.A. Marzan
Ombudsman clears Iloilo City mayor in ex-city health official’s coercion complaint

CLEARED. Ombudsman Samuel Martires has junked a former Iloilo City health officer's case against Mayor Jerry Treu00f1as and city administrator Melchor Tan.

Iloilo City information office

The Ombudsman says ex-city health officer Bernard Caspe failed to submit evidence to support his claim. City Administrator Melchor Tan is also cleared.

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Ombudsman Samuel Martires has cleared Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas and City Administrator Melchor Tan in the coercion complaint filed by a former city health officer.

The Ombudsman said in joint resolution dated February 8, 2021, that evidence did not support Dr. Bernard Caspe’s allegation that Treñas and Tan coerced him into resigning.

Martires approved the resolution in December 2021, and the document was received by the mayor’s office on Wednesday, March 2.

The resolution said the mayor and the city administrator were able to refute the allegations with an affidavit by Dr. Annabel Tang, who now heads the City Health Office.

“Basic is the rule that the party who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it. Here, [Caspe] did not submit any evidence to support his allegations,” the resolution stated.

“Mere allegations are not evidence. Respondents, on the other hand, were able to submit evidence to dispute complainant’s allegation,” it also said.

According to the text of the resolution, Caspe was approached by Tang on May 14, 2019, telling him of Treñas’ instruction for him to resign “or else his life would be made miserable.” Treñas then had just won the mayoralty race and still served as the city’s lone district representative.

Caspe also alleged that Treñas called on several incumbent city officials who supported his rival, then-Mayor Jose Espinosa III, to resign over issues of electioneering and immorality.

Executive orders issued by Treñas since he took office, or from July 1, 2019, allegedly removed Caspe’s name and replaced them with Tang’s.

Tan allegedly reiterated the mayor’s instruction for Caspe to resign on July 4, 2019 while they were at the City Administrator’s office.

Caspe alleged that, since July 1, 2019, he had been receiving insults and disrespect from Treñas and Tan.

This, Caspe said, pushed him to file complaints against the two for grave misconduct, oppression, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and violation of the norms of “justness and sincerity” under Section 4(A)(c) of Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

The mayor countered the claims in his own affidavit, saying that he had not been mayor at the time Tang allegedly approached Caspe and that he could not have exercised influence on her.

Tang herself filed an affidavit to refute Caspe’s claim, saying that their May 14 conversation was about a woman who was going to file an immorality suit against him, and that they never talked about his support for any political rival.

The joint resolution was penned by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III Darius Sagadal on February 8, 2021, and recommended for approval by Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente.

Rappler reached out to Treñas for comment on the matter but he has not responded as of this time. We will update this story with his statement once he responds. – 

Joseph B.A. Marzan is a Visayas-based journalist and is a recipient of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.