By Joseph B.A. Marzan
One of the former city government employees who filed complaints against Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas with the Office of the Ombudsman last month said he is now mulling to appeal the resolutions junking his cases.
Lawyer Raleigh Manikan, younger brother and lead counsel to former City Civil Registry Office (CCRO) chief Romeo Cesar “Juncae” Manikan, told Daily Guardian that they will be filing a Motion for Reconsideration against the Ombudsman’s May 8 and May 10, 2023 resolutions.
Raleigh did not delve much into the details of their filing, but briefly explained their disagreement with certain aspects of the May 8 resolution, which was filed against Treñas and then-CCRO assistant head Cherie Ampig.
On the May 10 resolution, which stemmed from a white paper of an ex-CCRO client, they would challenge the Ombudsman’s finding of lack of probable cause.
“There is a particular aspect cited by the Ombudsman with regard to the [May 8] case, specifically, […] with respect to their definition or consideration of the terms and conditions of an officer-in-charge. There are certain aspects thereof that we disagree with,” Raleigh said in the phone interview.
“We believe that to charge the public officer merely on the basis of a white paper, is not right. As to the probable cause, the Ombudsman might have a different aspect on that, because assuming that the [complaint against Manikan] is [based] on a white paper, is there sufficient ground to charge Mayor Treñas and Atty. Gil with [the accusations]? The Ombudsman believes that there is no probable cause, but then again, it is subject to a motion for reconsideration if any, and we’ll see from there,” he added.
“There is no question on the evidence because it comes from the city government and it exists. It’s only a matter of appreciation of the grounds for probable cause.”
Atty. Manikan also suggested that they may appeal the administrative case with the Court of Appeals and the criminal case with the Supreme Court if the Ombudsman sticks to its earlier resolutions.
Juncae Manikan said he felt harassed the reason why he charged the mayor and City Legal Officer Edgardo Gil of violating Republic Act Nos. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).
The case stemmed from a complaint filed against him by a CCRO client who accused him of requiring them to pay an “extravagant” fee of ₱14,500.
But the CCRO client, whose husband applied for a correction of entry, already had the correction granted in 2015, earlier than the date alleged in the accusation against him which was in 2017.
“A certain Sandoval complained that she paid me ₱14,500 to speed up her case to correct the birth certificate of her husband in 2017. But there, in fact, the petition had already been granted by 2015, and it was filed by her husband, not her, so it was impossible for her to pay from something that had already been finished,” Juncae Manikan said.
“I filed that complaint with the Ombudsman because for me, it wasn’t legal for me to be served with a complaint which was not even served to me personally because I was on leave when they asked me to respond to it, and that led to my preventive suspension,” he added.
He also saw politics in the complaints filed against him by the mayor’s office after he was linked to city government employees who were allegedly campaigning for then-city mayor Jose Espinosa III in the 2019 local elections in violation of civil service rules.
“We cannot campaign for a political candidate because civil service personnel are required to be neutral. Personally, I feel like this is harassment because the [sanctions against me] were all from claims that are political,” he said.
Another case Juncae Manikan filed against Treñas and Ampig was for alleged violation of Article 177 (Usurpation of Authority or Official Functions) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and Grave Misconduct and Grave Abuse of Authority.
He clarified that he had already returned to work at the CCRO before August 19, 2019 or the date when Ampig recommended the transfer of bookbinder Joemari Esteral to the General Services Office at the city dumpsite in Mandurriao district’s Calajunan village.
The Ombudsman took credence of Memorandum Order No. 19-22-C, which designated Ampig as officer-in-chief of the CCRO while Manikan was on leave, stating that her authority was until the designation was revoked, regardless of the fact that the latter had already returned to work.
“[Ampig] signed [Esteral’s] detail order on August 19, 2019, when in truth and in fact, I was on duty [at the city hall]. How come she signed that order when she was not the head of the [CCRO]? The civil service rules state that the department heads of Esteral’s mother unit and his destination would have an agreement via detail order on his transfer. Ampig signed it while I was there,” he explained.
“I was no longer on leave on August 19  when Ampig signed the [detail] order. In fact, I was already back by August 15 . I was on leave since July  but I was able to return. I have a daily time record indicating that I returned by that specific date,” he added.
Juncae Manikan vowed to continue his cause against City Hall even as he maintains his respect for the mayor.