Guv on Mejorada’s plaint: ‘A dirty political strategy’

By: Gerome Dalipe

A DIRTY political strategy.

That’s how outgoing Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr.  described the graft charges former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada filed against him and a town mayor.

In his press conference yesterday, Defensor voiced his confidence that the graft complaint against him and Mayor Ligaya Apura of Lemery town will be dismissed for lack of legal basis.

“That’s nothing. He (Mejorada) does not understand the facts (of the transaction). That’s part of a dirty political strategy,” Defensor told reporters.

The governor issued the statement when asked about the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas’ move to proceed with the conduct of its formal investigation on the graft case against him and Apura.

Defensor also confirmed his lawyers have not yet received an order from the anti-graft office for them to answer the charges.

Sarah Jo Vergara, Ombudsman-Visayas’s acting director of the Case Records Evaluation, Monitoring, and Enforcement Bureau, informed Mejorada that his complaint has been docketed for preliminary investigation.

Mejorada’s complaint dated March 29, 2019, was docketed as OMB-V-C-19-0158 and OMB-V-A-19-0191.

“These cases shall be assigned to an investigation officer who will act thereon accordingly,” read Vergara’s one-page letter dated April 24, 2019.

Docketing of a case means the anti-graft office finds the complaint to be sufficient in form and substance to warrant the conduct of a preliminary investigation.

During the preliminary investigation, the assigned graft investigator will direct the respondent to file his counter-affidavits in 10 days and to refute the allegations against him.

Pursuant to existing law, the anti-graft office is mandated to resolve a complaint within one year from the date of filing up to the final approval by the approving authority.

If the respondent is a public official, the Ombudsman is even required to speed up the case resolution before the election campaign begins.

In some instance, a complaint may undergo a fact-finding investigation before the respondent is ordered to submit his counter-affidavit.

Likewise, the complainant may also be asked to submit a certificate of non-forum shopping before the graft investigator directs the respondent to submit his counter-affidavit.

Mejorada sued Defensor and Apura on April 1, 2019, for alleged irregularities in the release of P1, 480,015 for the repair and rehabilitation of five barangay roads.

In his six-page complaint, Mejorada narrated the six violations that Defensor and Apura supposedly violated, including alleged violation of the Revised Penal Code and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Mejorada claimed the release of P1, 480,015 to the Lemery municipal government for the rehabilitation of the five barangay roads is illegal.