Iloilo city mayor Mabilog to face trial for graft
18 September 2017
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has found probable cause to charge Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) member Plaridel Nava II for one count of violation of Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019). Mabilog and Nava will face trial before the Sandiganbayan for the towing deal entered into with 3L Towing Services in 2015.
In its Resolution, the Ombudsman found that on 08 April 2014, the SP approved a regulation ordinance incorporating the use of a wheel towing clamp as part of its towing ordinance. On 17 February 2015, the SP approved a resolution authorizing Mabilog to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the local government and 3L Towing Services for the implementation of the city’s clamping ordinance. Under the MOA, 70% of the fines collected would be given to the towing company while the remaining 30% would be the LGU’s share.
Two weeks later, or on 27 February 2015, Mabilog wrote an urgent letter to the SP informing the body of the suspension of the MOA due to “some technical issues.” On 19 May 2015, 3L proprietor Leny Garcia wrote Mabilog and offered to withdraw from the MOA “amidst the legal issues confronting it and submit to legal processes prescribed by laws on government bidding and procurement.”
Nava, the chairman of the committee on transportation, accused Mabilog of actually owning 3L and claimed that the mayor had a direct financial interest in the MOA. To quote Nava, “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.”
Nava narrated that Mabilog instructed him to look for someone they could trust to stand as a dummy owner and to estimate the cost and expenditures for the proposed business venture on clamping services. According to the complaint, Nava regularly reported to Mabilog about the status of the business venture and that on 16 June 2014, Mabilog handed him P500,000.00 in cash as part of his capital contribution to the business. The mayor also reportedly expedited the release of the business and mayor’s permits of the towing company.
In his counter-charge, Mabilog claimed that “it is Nava who 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.”
In its Resolution, the Ombudsman stated that “while Mabilog and Nava pointed to each other as the true owner of 3L and thus have financial or pecuniary interest in the MOA for towing and clamping, 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.”
“On the part of Nava, as revealed by Mabilog, the former’s intervention was made manifest when he sponsored the wheel clamping ordinance as a supplement to the towing ordinance. Nava also sponsored the amendments to the towing ordinance allowing a private party to enter into a MOA with the city government for a term of five years without mentioning as to how the entity should be chosen. As admitted by Nava himself, it was done so with 3L in mind,” the Resolution added.
According to Ombudsman 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.”
Under Section 3(h) of R.A. No. 3019, public officials are prohibited 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. ###