OMBUDSMAN CLEARS CDO MAYOR IN TAX CASE
CASE DISMISSED. Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno (right) and legal counsel Dale Mordeno answers questions from the media during a press conference Wednesday. (Photo by Jigger J. Jerusalem)
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Office of the Ombudsman has cleared Mayor Oscar Moreno and other officials in a corruption case over a tax settlement deal in 2013.
The case stemmed from the local government’s agreement with condiments maker Ajinomoto Philippines, which essentially lowered the latter’s tax liability.
Complainant William Guialani accused Moreno, former city treasurer Glenn Bañez, and Ajinomoto representative Jocelyn Tsang of conspiring in a deal that resulted in Ajinomoto paying PHP300,000 instead of the original assessment of PHP2.9 million.
Guialani said the agreement was disadvantageous to the local government and gave unwarranted benefits to Ajinomoto.
In its 13-page decision issued on January 2 this year but released only on February 27, Assistant Special Prosecutor Anthony Ludalvi Vista said she did not find any irregularity in the deal.
Assistant Ombudsman Pilarita Lapitan and Ombudsman Samuel Martires also said they did not find any irregularity in the deal.
“The respondents’ actions do not satisfy the undersigned’s well-founded beliefs that crimes were committed,” reads a portion of the decision, signed by Lapitan and Martires.
Moreno said the Ombudsman ruling “vindicates us”.
“This is certainly a very important victory and I hope that this will be discussed thoroughly at the local government levels so the people will understand the power of the treasurer, especially about assessment,” Moreno told reporters in a press conference Wednesday.
Lawyer Bryan Dale Mordeno, Moreno’s chief legal counsel, noted that prior to the Ombudsman’s decision the Court of Appeals has already ruled in favor of Moreno and the other respondents.
Moreno, who is seeking reelection for a last term, is still facing a slew of corruption cases that were brought against him since assuming the mayoral post in 2013.
He has repeatedly denied all the charges, characterizing these as politically-motivated.