Ubay Ex-mayor Galicano Atup, incumbent Vice Mayor Nelson Uy, five SB members and all but one barangay officials in Brgy. Union this town were ordered suspended for six months without pay by the Ombudsman.
This came following the Decision that resolved the Complaint for Grave Misconduct filed by the Field Investigation Office (FIO), Office of the Ombudsman on May 20, 2014 against Atup, VM Uy, SB members EfrenTanjay, Victor Bonghanoy, IsidoreBesas, SabinianoAtupan, Eustaquio Bacolod, Brgy. Capt. Merlinda B. Gallego, Brgy. Kagawad Rod Arthur Canete, Alan P. Mendez, Letecia Q. Bunado, Constantina B. Villasan, Gemma B. Malinao, Antonio I. Cutamora, Johnny Jim Q. Garces and Brgy. Treasurer Arme A. Taan.
However, the Respondents are merely guilty of Simple Misconduct as no substantial evidence exist to hold them guilty of Grave Misconduct. This was the gist of the findings of Ruth Laua A. Mella, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III and Acting Director, PIAB-F who penned the Decision dated October 11, 2016 and approved by Ombudsman ConchitaCarpio Morales on Nov. 16, 2016.
This is also an offshoot of the complaint filed by ex-SB member lawyer Cesar Arro, Sr. on April 10, 2014 in reference to the holding of a 3-win cockfighting at the Brgy. Union Cultural Sports Center on January 28, 29 and 30, 2014.
This event was accordingly held in Pursuant to a Special Permit issued by PSSupt. Dennis Palo Agustin, then the Director of the Bohol Provincial Police Office. But according to FIO and Arro,the event was illegal because it was not held in a licensed cockpit.
Mayor Atup is charged for approving Resolution No. 205, Series of 2013 of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB), requesting him (Atup) to allow the SB to hold a 3-win cockfight on February 01 and 02, 2014 at Ramon Magsaysay Memorial gym; then for approving another SB Resolution No. 08, Series of 2014, amending the date and venue of the proposed cockfighting event from February 01 and 02, 2014 to January 28, 29 and 30, 2014, and from RM gym to Brgy. Union gym; and for signing the Mayor’s Permit dated January 08, 2014.
Vice Mayor Uy was isued for attesting, while Councilors Tanjay, Bonghanoy, Besas, Atupan and Bacolod for sponsoring SB Resolution No. 205, Series of 2013 and SB Resolution No. 08, Series of 2014, respectively.
On the other hand, the prosecution officer further stated that all barangay officials are impleaded in the complaint for attesting, signing and approving Barangay Resolution No. 06, Series of 2014 which endorsed the holding of the cockfighting event on January 28, 29 and 30, 2014 at the covered court of Brgy. Union this town.
In the course of the investigation, the FIO averred “that the cockfighting event was not held for the purpose of entertaining tourists and dignitaries, or for national fund-raising activities, thus, the same did not fall under the exceptions whereby a cockfight may be held at a venue other than a licensed cockpit.”
It further stated that “although the purpose of entertaining balikbayans and tourists was mentioned in SB Resolution No. 205, Series of 2013, the same was merely incidental and not the primary reason.”
The prosecution officer found that “a perusal of the following documents reveals that the controlling event which led to the holding of the cockfight at the Union Cultural Sports Center was the local town fiesta: SB Res. No. 06, Series of 2014, (ii) Certification dated April 13, 2015 of Arch. Samuel A. Mendez, Municipal Administrate, and (iii) Certification dated January 06, 2014 of PCI George SalcedoCaña.” And due to this, the applicable provision of P.D. 449 is under Section 5(d) which read, “(i) if the cockfight event is done during Sundays, legal holidays and local fiestas, (ii) it must last only for three days; and (iii) must be held in a licensed cockpit.”
The graft prosecutor ruled that respondents’ individual participation in the successful conduct of an illegal cockfight make them liable and asserted that “respondent except for Malinao clearly presented to the holding of the cockfighting event at the Union Cultural Sports Center. Primarily, it was on the occasion of a local town fiesta.” And reiterated in quoting Section 5(d) of PD 449 that “required that it be done in a licensed cockpit.”
Thus, the prosecutor found the respondents except for Malinao, guilty of simple misconduct. Brgy.Kag. Gemma B. Malinao was spared from the penalty as there is lack of evidence proving her participation. The latter, accordingly, did not sign Brgy. Resolution No. 06, Series of 2014 which endorsed for approval, the request of SB of Ubay to hold the controversial illegal cockfighting.
Respondent barangay officials asserted in their counter-affidavit that the barangay resolution they signed was merely an expression of their sentiment and opinion, it did not confer any right.
On the other hand, Atup, Uy, Tanjay and Atupan also in their Counter-Affidavit, pointed out “that the Special Permit issued by PSSupt. Dennis Pale Agustin was for the holding of a ‘three-day special cockfight on occasion for the entertainment of tourists and balikbayans during the annual town fiesta of Ubay, Bohol.” They further explained that “there was no licensed cockpit or holder of a franchise to operate a cockpit in Ubay.”
Bonghanoy, Besas and Bacolod “defend the propriety of holding a cockfighting event in places other than a licensed cockpit.”
In the meantime, Respondents are set to file their Motion for Reconsideration. This developed even as this paper tried to contact the same for their comments but to no avail. (Wenny Reyes)