By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia said yesterday he felt “vindicated” after the Court of Appeals-Visayas Station overturned the Office of the Ombudsman decision, which dismissed the mayor and eight others surrounding alleged anomalies regarding a 2008 P49 million furniture purchase.
According to the decision, signed by Associate Justice Germano Francisco D. Legaspi, Associate Justice Marilyn B. Lagura-Yap, and Executive Justice Gabriel T. Ingles of the 18th Division of the Court of Appeals-Cebu, “There is no showing that the acts, which purportedly transgressed the IRR of RA 9184 (the Government Procurement Reform Act) were tainted with corruption or that petitioners benefitted.”
They noted, “We reject the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman relative to the petitioner’s liability for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.”
In regards to allegations surrounding delayed payments, the court said, “We see no error in the computation of the liquidated damages against Comfac Corporation for the items it belatedly delivered.”
Leonardia gathered his co-respondents, along with his Grupo Progreso allies, at the Bacolod City Government Center yesterday, where he said the case allowed him to see who his “real friends” are.
“I have been saying there was no dishonesty here, it was a matter of technicality and procedure,” he said.
The decision had been foreseen by former Provincial Board Member Victor Puey, who earlier claimed the case had already been prejudged by the Court of Appeals.
According to a letter he wrote earlier this year, Puey claimed the Condonation Legal Doctrine, wherein reelection to office is considered an acceptance of the official’s actions, was already being discussed before hearing rebuttal to arguments made by Leonardia in his appeal.
He wrote, “It is very clear and apparent that this honorable Court of Appeals has already pre-judged the case in favor of petitioner Evelio Leonardia.”/WDJ