Tuguegarao mayor Soriano steps down to focus on court fight

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines – Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano stepped down from office on Friday, February 10, following an order from the Ombudsman to dismiss him for grave misconduct.

An emotional Soriano said he "voluntarily" called the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to facilitate the turn over of the mayoralty office to Vice Mayor Benben De Guzman.

In his speech. Soriano said he is "temporarily leaving" to "concentrate (on) his fight in the courts."

This was Soriano's second dismissal order for grave misconduct from the Ombudsman for issuing a permit to a parking terminal without the city council's approval. The first dismissal was overturned by the Court of Appeals and instead serve him a 6-month suspension for "simple misconduct."

This time, Soriano said he was more "confident" in facing the charges, which he described as "politically motivated."

"I am more confident in this fight. I will fight them (political rivals) because I know they will not stop. I am fighting because we have our supporters and because I believe that there are still a lot people believing in our cause," Soriano said.

"We've been together for a long long time. We have shared so much sweat and tears for the work that we have been doing. And to [acting] Mayor Benben, I'd like to assure you too that we will support your administration as we continue the fight in the courts," he added.

Soriano said he already filed a petition for Writ of Injunction to the Court of Appeals on January 31.

Soriano's second dismissal order was for "putting cart before the horse by issuing the permit without authorization by the Sanggunian (council)." It was the same case as his first dismissal order where he also gave a special business permit for a flea market without the city council's approval.

Asked if he will request a reversal of the decision – from grave misconduct to simple misconduct – Soriano, refusing to discuss the merits of the case, said he already filed a Motion for Reconsideration at the Ombudsman and prayed that it will be eventually scrapped.

Soriano is also facing two corruption charges at the Sandiganbayan over his involvement in the alleged anomalous purchase of rubber boats amounting to P131.5 million and the purchase of secondhand helicopters, all in the time of former President Gloria Arroyo.  – Rappler.com