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Ombudsman Martires overrides Morales ruling on mayor’s case

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Ombudsman Samuel Martires has modified a ruling of his predecessor, Conchita Carpio-Morales, on two counts of malversation of public funds and neglect of duty against San Agustin, Isabela Mayor Cesar Mondala.

In a resolution handed down last Feb. 21, Martires practically ordered a reinvestigation of case with a view to setting the records in proper perspectives.

Martires wanted to know if Mondala filed his motion for reconsideration in time to merit a a reopening of the case, contrary to the decision of Morales who ordered Mondala’s suspension for three months without pay on July 10, 2018 as she found the mayor guilty of neglect of duty.

The decision of Morales stemmed from the charges filed by former San Agustin Vice Mayor Virgilio Padilla against Mondala for alleged violation of the anti-graft law, grave misconduct and serious dishonesty.

In the joint order on the motion for partial reconsideration of respondent and omnibus motion from the complainant, Martires ruled that based on the assertions of the respondent’s motion coupled with receipts from Philippine Postal Corporation, the Ombudsman upheld Mondala’s claim that he filed his motion for reconsideration on time.

Receipts from the Philippine Postal Corporation reportedly showed that Mondala receive the order of the Ombudsman on July 27, 2018 and sent his reply/motion on August 1, 2018. Receipts from the Philippine Postal Corporation were shown as Annex A in the respondents’ partial motion for reconsideration.

In this motion for partial reconsideration, Mondala averred that it was not him who stayed at the Nice Hotel on Claro M. Recto Ave., in Manila, but two of his security personnel who paid the total amount of P60,000.00 when they accompanied him to attend the Mayors League Convention and Sulong

Pilipinas Local Government Discussion for several days. The convention was held at the Manila Hotel and Dusit Thani in Makati City on October 2016.

Mondala claimed he was not aware that the official receipts issued to his security people were expired when he tried to reimburse the amount in the receipts.

The latter believed that he had only until August 4, 2018 to file his motion for reconsideration against the suspension, saying he believed he had until August 28, 2018 to file his motion.

Portions of Mondala’s motion argued that the Commission an Audit had not yet issued any Notice of Disallowance (ND) or COA Order of Execution (COE), hence, the conclusion in the resolution of

Carpio-Morales that the Notice of Disallowance (ND had attained finality is false. In fact, barely three (3) days had passed from the issuance of the ND when the complaint of Padilla was filed at the Ombudsman.

It was shown in the exhibits that COA eventually sent an NDS (Notice of Disallowance) and was received by Mondala on December 20, 2017.

Martires ruled that although the date indicated in the affidavits of Edwin Sanchez and Mario Sibug (security details of Mondala) was August 4, 2018 and the certification on the receipt was

dated 03 August 2018, the stamped date on the envelopes which contained respondents’ motion was August 1, 2018.

The Ombudsman also noted that the registry receipt which was issued by the Philippine Postal Corporation for the mailing of the copy of the motion intended for complainants was issued on August 1, 2018. Considering these, it would appear that respondents motion for reconsideration was not filed late.

Martires further stated that on the merits of the motion after review of the records, as well as the motion and additional evidence submitted by both parties, the Ombudsman finds that the challenged decision of Morales must be modified.

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