Iloilo mayor Mabilog charged with graft over towing project

Lian Buan

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Iloilo mayor Mabilog charged with graft over towing project
The Ombudsman also indicts former Iloilo City Councilor Plaridel Nava II, who allegedly connived with the mayor to set up a towing firm that would bag a government contract

MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Monday, September 18, formally accused Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog for one count of graft for allegedly creating a towing company in 2015 that would get a contract with the city government.

Plaridel Nava II, who was city councilor at the time, claimed the mayor owned 3L Towing Services, which was created after the city council passed a towing ordinance. In an agreement drafted in February 2015, 3L, would provide the wheel towing clamp, and would get 70% of the fines collected. The local government would get the remaining 30% of the collection.

Mabilog then struck down the agreement only days after. He supposedly got a letter from Leny Garcia, dummy owner of 3L, offering to withdraw from the deal owing to “legal issues” in bidding and procurement. 

Nava alleged that Mabilog got him “to perpetuate and consummate his illegitimate, immoral, dishonest and underground acts and transactions with private groups and corporate personalities doing or intending to do business in the city of Iloilo by using his power and influence as the chief executive of the city government.”  

The former councilor said he was even instructed by Mabilog to look for a trustworthy person they could use as dummy owner. Nava said that in June 2014, Mabilog gave him P500,000 in cash as his share in the endeavor. 


In a counter-charge, Mabilog said it was Nava’s idea to look for a dummy owner.

“Mabilog claimed that it is Nava who has pecuniary interest in 3L because it was the latter who told him about it and its intention of bidding for the towing project, even defending the qualifications of 3L,” the Office of the Ombudsman said in a statement.

Morales indicted both Mabilog and Nava. “Simply put, there was a meeting of the minds between them to do an illegal act and thus they must both suffer its consequences,” the Ombudsman said.

Morales said there is an element of graft because a memorandum of agreement (MOA) was struck without competitive bidding.

“On the part of Nava, as revealed by Mabilog, the former’s intervention was made manifest when he sponsored the wheel clamping ordinance as a supplement to the towing ordinance. Nava also sponsored the amendments to the towing ordinance allowing a private party to enter into a MOA with the city government for a term of five years without mentioning as to how the entity should be chosen. As admitted by Nava himself, it was done so with 3L in mind,” Morales said.

They are indicted for violation of Section 3(h) of the graft law, which prohibits officials from directly or indirectly having financing or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction” in a government project.


Mabilog is tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the narco-politicians being targeted in his campaign against drugs. The Chief Executive initially reassigned Police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido to Iloilo City, but this was later canceled(READ: Narcopolitician or ‘best’ mayor? Who is Iloilo City’s Jed Mabilog?)

Espenido’s Iloilo assignment was opposed by some in the police force because his rank does not qualify him to head the police of a highly urbanized city like Iloilo. (READ: Duterte to Iloilo Mayor Mabilog: End drug ties now)

Duterte has ordered a lifestyle check on Mabilog, picking specifically on the latter’s so-called multi-million mansion. Mabilog said his family’s wealth comes from his yearsof  being an entrepreneur and his wife’s previous work in Canada.

Mabilog is currently on sick leave until September 1 and seeking treatment for diabetes abroad.

Other mayors who have been dragged by Duterte to narcopolitics were killed in police raids, both headed by Espenido: Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte in 2016 and Reynaldo Parojinog of Ozamiz City in July.

Mabilog has categorically denied links to drugs. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.