ILOILO CITY — Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and his accuser, Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) member Plaridel Nava, will have to face trial over a corruption charge to be filed by the Office of the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan.
In a statement Monday, the Office of the Ombudsman said “it has found probable cause to charge Mabilog and Nava II with one count of violation of Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).”
The case stemmed from a towing deal that was entered into by the city government with 3L Towing Services in 2015.
The Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) on April 8, 2014, has approved an ordinance that incorporated the use of a wheel towing clamp in the towing ordinance.
The SP authorized Mabilog to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on behalf of the city government with the 3L Towing Services for the implementation of the ordinance on February 17, 2015.
Ten days after, Mabilog asked the SP through an urgent letter to suspend the MOA due to “some technical issues,” according to the Ombudsman.
Moreover, proprietor Leny Garcia of the towing service on May 19, 2015 offered to withdraw the MOA “amidst the legal issues confronting it and submit to legal processes prescribed by laws on government bidding and procurement,” the media release added.
Nava, who filed the complaint before the Ombudsman, accused Mabilog as the owner of the towing service. According to the Ombudsman Nava claimed that “the mayor had a direct financial interest in the MOA.”
The Ombudsman quoted Nava as saying that “Mabilog allegedly employed his services 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.”
Mabilog, in his counter-charge submitted to the Ombudsman, said that “Nava 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 Ombudsman said that “one thing is clear from their accusations and counter-accusations—both colluded to create 3L, to get Garcia to act as its dummy owner, to have the business registered with the DTI and BIR, to secure its business and mayor’s permits, and to have it awarded the MOA with the city government without going through a competitive process.”
According to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, “simply put, there was a meeting of the minds between them to do an illegal act and thus they must both suffer its consequences.”
Section 3 (h) of RA 3019 prohibits public officials from directly or indirectly having financing or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the constitution or by any law from having any interest.
Lawyer Mark Piad, spokesperson of the city mayor, said that they have not received any written decision of the Ombudsman relative to the case.
“So as of the moment, we might as well wait for the written resolution so that the lawyers could file the proper legal remedies,” Piad said.
Nava, in a text message, said that he is yet to see a copy of the Ombudsman resolution. However, he expressed that he is not interested to testify against Mabilog.
“Aside from my testimony, no other evidence will stand in court. Since the Ombudsman included me in the crime charged, I have decided not to testify against Mayor Mabilog,” he said.
He also stated that the 3L contract “was not consummated,” citing that Mabilog “cancelled” the agreement after his expose. (PNA)