Ex-Iloilo mayor dismissed for 2nd time

MANILA -- Former Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog has been dismissed from office not just once, but twice.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal of Mabilog for the second time in a row, this time for his involvement in the alleged anomalous towing services deal with a private company he purportedly owned in 2015.

The Office of the Ombudsman said Wednesday it again found Mabilog guilty of serious dishonesty, plus grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Mabilog was first dismissed in October 2017 after he was found guilty of serious dishonesty for his failure to explain his allegedly questionable wealth worth PHP8.9 million from 2012 to 2013.

This time, the anti-graft body meted Mabilog with the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

He was also ordered to pay a fine equivalent to his one year's salary as Iloilo City mayor.

In April 2014, the city council passed a resolution ordering the use of wheel towing clamps as specified in its towing ordinance.

The city council then approved a resolution on Feb. 17, 2015, allowing Mabilog to enter into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with 3L Towing Services.

The MOA stated that 70 percent of the revenue would go to the company, while 30 percent would be the local government's share, then a 65-35 sharing for the next five years.

The city council resolution was passed on Feb. 24, 2015, confirming the MOA.

However, Mabilog ordered the suspension of the MOA three days later due to "some technical issues."

Three months later, 3L proprietor Leny Garcia then wrote the local chief executive informing him that the MOA was being withdrawn amidst the legal issues confronting it and submitted to legal processes prescribed by laws on government bidding and procurement.

The then Councilor Plaridel Nava II, a co-accused in the case, accused Mabilog of owning the towing company and claimed that he had financial interests in the MOA.

According to Nava, Mabilog had employed his services to perpetuate and consummate the erstwhile mayor's "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."

He added Mabilog had ordered him to look for a dummy owner and estimated the costs of a towing company involved in clamping services.

Graft probers found that Mabilog handed PHP500,000 over to Nava as part of his capital contribution to 3L on June 16, 2014.

Mabilog also allegedly expedited the processing of the company's business and mayor's permits.

It is undisputed that respondent entered into an MOA, on behalf of the city government, with 3L for the implementation of the city's clamping ordinance without compliance with any procurement process required under the relevant law for the selection of 3L, the Ombudsman said in its decision.

The Ombudsman also gave no credence to the contention of Mabilog that Garcia's withdrawal from the MOA "excused" him from any administrative liability.

The obvious purpose of such withdrawal was to cancel the MOA in an attempt to avoid further scrutiny, considering that complainant Manuel Mejorada had already filed the complaint-affidavit almost a month prior to Garcia's letter of withdrawal, it said.

Morales ordered the Ombudsman for Visayas to conduct an immediate fact-finding investigation against Nava as he openly admitted against his own interest, that he was the one who approached Garcia to serve as respondent's dummy, upon the latter's earlier instruction, to look for someone they could trust.

The Ombudsman earlier indicted Mabilog and his co-accused for graft in the same case.

In 2016, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte divulged that Mabilog was on his "narco list" of politicians involved in the illegal drug trade.

Mabilog has denied the accusations.

Source: Philippine News Agency