Home News Ombudsman dismisses Tuguegarao mayor Soriano anew

Ombudsman dismisses Tuguegarao mayor Soriano anew

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- The Ombudsman, for the second time, ordered the dismissal of Tuguegarao City mayor Jefferson Soriano for grave misconduct and abuse of authority over a parking terminal he allegedly allowed to operate without prior approval of the city council.

In a 16-page decision, a copy of which was obtained by Forum, the prosecutor’s office said Soriano gave “unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference” to One-Way Parking Terminal Inc. (OWPTI) when he issued a provisional permit to operate without a legislative franchise.

The complaint was filed by certain Sany Grace Bayangan, a member and secretary of a transport group operating in Tuguegarao.

Also implicated were Soriano’s administrator and six members of the city council, all of whom were cleared by the Ombudsman.

In her complaint, Bayangan said Soriano on October 8, 2013 issued a letter “advising” all bus, van and passenger jeeps to move out of the city’s poblacion area purportedly by the strength of a city ordinance prohibiting public utility vehicles (PUVs) to establish terminals inside the city’s center of operations.

Bayangan claimed that the van operators were “harassed, oppressed and coerced” by men wearing blue shirts printed with “Office of the City Mayor” when they did not comply with the directive to relocate to OWPTI.

She said the directive was three days earlier before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) could issue a certificate of incorporation to OWPTI.

She also claimed that OWPTI only applied for mayor’s business permit on October 14 and was only in fact given authority to operate by the city council on September 2014.

The Ombudsman, in its decision, said Soriano disregarded the powers of the city council of determining “what’s best for the inhabitant of the city,” as mandated by the Local Government Code, when he issued a “provisional permit” to OWPTI in December 2013.

In the provisional permit, Soriano said the OWPTI is given such permit as the approval of legislative franchise would “[take] a long period of time” and the city has long tolerated illegal parking terminals.

“He abused his authority and flagrantly disregard establish rule since he put the cart before the horse,” the Ombudsman said.

‘No favor’

In a phone interview, Soriano told Forum that he will fight the case as his “right under a democracy.”

He denied that there was no “favor” given to OWPTI since he did not direct the “illegal parking terminals” to proceed to the OWPTI.

“I only told them to move out from their terminals because they are not supposed to be there, according to an ordinance,” Soriano said. “How can there be unwarranted benefits there?”

Soriano also said he is “happy” that the charges filed against his political colleagues were dismissed as they “have nothing to do with it.”

Second time

This was the second time the Ombudsman has ordered a dismissal against Soriano.

In 2014, Soriano was also ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman for grave misconduct for issuing a permit to businesswoman without prior approval of the city council.

The dismissal, however, was reversed by the Court of Appeals and instead served Soriano a 3-month suspension.

The appellate court, in its reversal, said Soriano only violated simple misconduct, instead of grave misconduct. –Northernforum.net

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