Ombudsman urges review of ex-Tuguegarao mayor acquittal

MANILA, Philippines – In a growing list of charges dismissed by the Sandiganbayan for unsubstantiated allegations, the Office of the Ombudsman filed a motion anew to reinstate graft charges, this time against former Tuguegarao mayor Delfin Ting, over the demolition of a market in 2008. 

In its motion for reconsideration submitted to the anti-graft court's second division on January 9, the prosecution urged the court to reconsider the “overwhelming evidence” that the accused acted with “manifest partiality, evident bad faith and/or gross inexcusable negligence” in ordering the demolition of the Tuguegarao City Central Market.

The charges stemmed from the demolition of the market in 2008, which the prosecutors said, was not authorized by the Sangguniang Panlungsod required under the Local Government Code, and thus a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The second division junked the charges in December 2016 because according to the court, the prosecutors relied only on the council resolution’s wording to imply that the demolition was not authorized.

“(They) failed to present any corroborating evidence that the Sangguniang Panlungsod in approving the upgrading project did not really intend for the demolition of the old market building,” the December 2016 decision read.

Ting defended the demolition by saying that “the approved building design for the upgrade cannot be done without totally tearing down the old market.”

'Mall of the Valley'

Eventually, a shopping mall named "Mall of the Valley" was constructed on the site of the demolished market.

The prosecutors reiterated that the minutes of the second and final committee meeting show that the Sanggunian explicitly said they are only approving a market upgrade, and not the construction of Mall of the Valley.

Thus, the prosecutors said, “Evident bad faith was clearly manifest when accused being fully aware that the council only approved the upgrading of the Tuguegarao City Public Market but still proceeded with its total demolition and construction of the Mall of the Valley.”

“There is likewise gross inexcusable negligence on the part of accused Ting in the instant case when he failed to act or clarify on the intent of the Sangguniang Panlungsod in only approving the upgrading of the old public market instead of the construction of the Mall of the Valley," the motion said.

The prosecutors urged the court to reconsider its acquittal of Ting, the most recent of the dimissed graft charges that the Ombudsman is seeking to reinstate.

Just this month, the Ombudsman appealed to the Sandiganbayan to reinstate plunder charges vs former agriculture undersecretary Joc-Joc Bolante over the fertilizer fund scam, and the graft charges against Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian over the May 2015 Kentex fire. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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