Bukidnon guv blasts rivals for ‘misinformation’

Jigger J. Jerusalem

BUKIDNON Governor Jose Maria Zubiri Jr. accused his political opponents of spreading misinformation against him, following the recent decision of the Office of the Ombudsman denying his motion for reconsideration in relation to a complaint filed by a former Provincial Government employee against him.

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Carlos Ycaro, a retired worker of the Bukidnon Provincial Capitol, former head of the general services department, who accused the governor of refusing to sign his clearance and his request for commutation.

A copy of the Ombudsman’s decision, dated November 11, 2016, was posted on Facebook on Saturday, March 18.

In his affidavit, Ycaro accused Zubiri of abuse of authority, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave misconduct, and for violations of Republic Act (RA) 10154 and RA 6713.

The RA 10154 pertains to the early release of retirement benefits of public officials, while RA 6713 is the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees.

Last year, the Ombudsman ordered the six-month suspension of Zubiri for his refusal to approve Ycaro’s terminal leave application.

In his defense, Zubiri said he was not yet the provincial governor at the time Ycaro applied for his terminal leave and pointed to then governor Alex Calingasan as the right person to approve such documents.

Zubiri also reasoned that Ycaro was not given the clearance due to his alleged failure to account for chairs owned by the Provincial Government amounting to P3.25 million and the electrification, installation and supply of equipment with a total of P8.1 million, of which P868, 472 was only accounted for.

In its recent ruling, however, the Ombudsman upheld its June 7, 2016 decision of ordering the governor’s suspension for “administratively guilty of grave abuse of authority amounting to oppression.”

Despite the Ombudsman’s upholding of its previous ruling, Zubiri said he was able to secure legal remedies from the Court of Appeals (CA)-Mindanao Station based in the city.

“While it is true that the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Governor Zubiri was denied by the Ombudsman, [he] has timely filed a Petition for Review before the Court of Appeals (CA) Cagayan de Oro City in relation to the case filed by Carlos Ycaro. In fact, the Governor has secured a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Writ of Preliminary Injunction (WPI), issued by the CA,” said a statement posted by Zubiri’s office on Facebook on Saturday.

According to a source on Sunday at the Provincial Capitol, Zubiri obtained the TRO and WPI from the CA sometime January this year.

The statement added the case filed by Ycaro for violation of RA 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, against Zubiri was dismissed by the Ombudsman for lack of legal basis, but the case filed by the governor against the former is still pending in the same office.

The source said the case filed by Zubiri was in connection with the public funds Ycaro has yet to account before he retired.

Contrary to the social media post by Zubiri’s perceived detractors, “the Governor respects the rule of law and he has high regards and faith to the justice system and its process. Precisely why he filed a Petition for Review at the Court of Appeals. He respects the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman, at the same time, the Governor does not agree with its decision,” the statement said.

The statement added it’s Zubiri’s political opponents that have no respect for the process of the law and that they are “misleading and misinforming the people.”