Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ombudsman suspends three Davao City officials

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 22, 2009) - The Ombudsman has suspended three Davao City officials for six months for the alleged demolition of a national government-funded canal-cover project last year, the official Philippine News Agency said.

It said the Ombudsman suspended City Administrator Wendel Avisado, City Engineer Jose Gestuveo Jr. and Drainage Maintenance Unit Chief Yusop Jimlani for six months without pay.

The case stemmed from the demolition of the canal-cover worth P2 million in Quezon Boulevard by a team from the Davao City government to clear all obstructions situated over the city's drainage system.

The project was constructed in response to the clamor of the community to secure residents and children from any untoward accident, prevent disposal of garbage and clogging in the canal and emission of foul odors.

In its order, the Ombudsman said: "The act of demolishing the Canal-Cover Project by the demolition team without securing the necessary permit prior to its demolition resulted to the damage of the government in the amount of P2,000,000. The damage was unreasonable or at the very least was not proven to be necessary."

It said that under the National Building Code, the lack of building permit does not render per se the structure as an illegal construction and subject for immediate demolition.

It said only the Department of Public Works and Highways can determine and declare if a structure is nuisance, dangerous or ruinous, according to the Philippine News Agency.

The Ombudsman declared that considering that the respondents are key city officials, their continued presence or stay in the office will be prejudicial in the conduct of the investigation.

The order said the continued discharge of the trio's functions may likely influence potential witnesses or tamper with records which may be vital in the prosecution of the case against them.

Under Section 24 of RA 6770, otherwise known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989, "the Ombudsman or his Deputy may impose preventive suspension any officer or employee under his authority pending an investigation, if in his judgment, the evidence of guilt is strong, and a) the charge against such officer or employee involves dishonesty, oppression or grave misconduct or neglect in the performance of duty; b) the charges would warrant removal from the service; or c) the respondent's continued stay in office may prejudice the case filed against him."

The Ombudsman also ordered Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno to immediately implement the order. (PNA)

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