TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the evidences against former Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano’s criminal charges on the issuance of a permit for operation to a carnival and flea market or “baratilyo” in 2013.
Soriano told The Northern Forum that the anti-graft court approved their plea for a demurrer to evidence, meaning the “facts stated in the pleadings of the opposing party is insufficient to prove his alleged offense.”
Soriano said the decision “is already tantamount to the dismissal of the case.”
He, however, said he has yet to see and is waiting for the official copy of the Sandiganbayan’s decision.
The criminal charges were filed by the Ombudsman, after finding him guilty of administrative charges of grave misconduct for closing streets during the local fiesta in 2013 and giving a special permit to a stalls operator without securing approval from the Sangguniang Bayan, which is required under the local government code.
The Ombudsman had also ordered for Soriano’s dismissal for the same case, which he served starting September 14, 2014.
However, on April 16, 2015, the Court of Appeals (CA) reinstated him when they reversed the Ombudsman’s decision in the case saying Soriano was only guilty of simple misconduct and not grave misconduct. The offense of simple misconduct is equivalent only to suspension of 90 days, according to the CA decision.
“It’s a vindication of the things that we have done that we have done it in good faith,” he added.
Soriano also cited Lecaros v. Sandiganbayan which ruled that, “If a chief executive does interpret a law in good faith for the performance of his duties, then he is not guilty of any offense.”
The dismissal, however, does not mean the lawyer police general-turned politician will return to office.
Soriano was faced another dismissal from office by the Ombudsman earlier this year for his alleged misconduct in giving a provisional permit to One Way Parking Terminal Inc. to operate the city’s transport terminal despite the lack of approval from the city council.
Regarding the said case, he said that they will file a motion for judicial redetermination of probable cause.
“This means we [have] challenged the findings of the Mmbudsman sa Sandiganbayan na may probable cause tayo,” he said.
Soriano was among the guests of the opening of the 2017 Afi Festival on Friday, August 11, at the City Hall. Northernforum.net