Ombudsman junks graft charges against Calixto
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has dismissed the charges against Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto and 10 other Pasay City officials for alleged violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Revised Penal Code following the award of contracts for garbage collection and disposal of the City Government in 2004-2005.
Mayor Calixto said he felt vindicated and relieved following the dismissal of the charges against him – filed when he was still Vice Mayor -- after six (6) years of protracted legal battle in the Ombudsman.
“When the truth is on your side, you have nothing to fear. I am relieved that the truth finally came out and that we can now move on and put all this behind us. Through all the political mudslinging that came with this case, I stood my ground because I know that the truth will prevail in the end,” the mayor said.
Calixto added that the filing of the case was clearly politically motivated and simple political harassment. “I am pleased that the Ombudsman saw through the motivations of the complainant in this case.”
In 2005, Juanito Delmendo filed the charges against then Vice Mayor Calixto and 10 other public officials alleging that the respondents conspired in causing the enactment and passage of certain sangguniang panglungsod resolutions granting then Mayor Peewee Trinidad authority to extend for several months the contract for garbage collection and disposal of Pasay City in favor of “favored” garbage contractors without the public bidding required by law.
In a January 30 resolution, Morales dismissed the charges against Calixto, then Pasay City Mayor Wenceslao Trinidad and then Pasay City Councilors Richard Advincula, Lexter N. Ibay, Jose Antonio F. Roxas, Ma. Antonia C. Cuneta, Noel C. Bayona, Arnel Regino T. Arceo, Editha V. Vergel de Dios, Marie Irish P. Pineda, and Greg Paolo N. Alcera saying that “it would be an exercise in futility to move forward with the prosecution or indictment of the herein respondents.”
Morales said that the charges cannot stand because “the proposed or projected indictments against herein respondents would be predicated or erected chiefly, if not entirely, upon the proferred testimonies of “whistle blowing” spouses Generoso F. Cuneta and Antonia C. Cuneta who by their very own admissions had participated all the while in the alleged questionable activities.”
The Ombudsman noted that “without the proferred testimonies of these two ‘whistle blowing’ spouses – which notably is bereft of independent corroboration from some other source/s, -- the prosecution’s case have virtually no leg to stand on.”
Morales ruled that Generoso Cuneta’s “trustworthiness and credibility as a witness had thus become impugnable for ‘it cannot be doubted that a previous criminal experience will depreciate the credit of a witness to a greater or less extent.” Generoso Cuneta was previously convicted of the crime of malversation of public funds by the Pasay RTC Branch 117 in connection with the misappropriation of the funds of the Liga ng mga Barangay, a crime involving moral turpitude.
The Ombudsman also noted that spouses Generoso and Antonia Cuneta scarcely disavowed or even challenged the claim by respondents that in 2006 then City Councilor Antonia Cuneta confessed to then Mayor Trinidad and their fellow city councilors that they were threatened by former Congresswoman Connie Dy and her husband Joey Dy to testify against their fellow officials otherwise they will re-open the criminal case for malversation against them. Thus, they were forced to distance themselves from the camp of former Mayor Trinidad faced with this threat from Congresswoman Dy.
Further, Morales ruled that the long delay in the preliminary investigation of the case – which took some six years -- is a clear violation of Calixto’s right to due process and the constitutional guarantee of speedy disposition of cases.
She also said that the criminal case has to fail because her office earlier dismissed a similar complaint (“Alavera Case”) with substantially the same or similar set of facts as those obtaining in this case except that the Alavera case involved contracts for security and janitorial services while this case involved garbage collection and disposal. The Ombudsman dismissed the Alavera complaint on the ground that the extensions of the contracts for janitorial and security services, and the accompanying City Council Resolutions, were lawful and justified and not attended by corrupt practices or motives.
See related stories...
Graft charge junked vs Pasay mayor, 10 other city execs from Inquirer
Graft charges vs Calixto dismissed by Ombudsman from Journal
Calixto cleared of graft raps from Manila Standard Today
Click here for Translation in Tagalog
NEWS RELEASE By: Pasay City- Public Information Office
April 13, 2012