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Ombudsman nominee faces disbarment

By NEWSBREAK

 

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Today, June 27, acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro will face the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to tell them what he’s got to be an Ombudsman.

Would he admit to the existence of 6 cases against him, among them a disbarment? [Newsbreak earlier reported that there were 3 disbarment cases filed against Casimiro. But facing the JBC today, Casimiro said two of these cases were dismissed last week.]

The number could have been seven but two weeks ago, the Office of the President cleared him of charges of misconduct arising from the delayed resolution of a 15-year-old case about a ghost delivery of military equipment worth P89 million.

Exonerating Casimiro, however, sends the wrong message, the complainants decried, as Malacañang earlier dismissed deputy ombudsman for military Emilio Gonzalez for failing to act on a 9-month-old appeal.

The complainants themselves are state prosecutors who accused Casimiro of sitting on a case that they said stood on solid evidence.

Casimiro now wants to replace his resigned boss, former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

Newsbreak wrote the office of Casimiro to request an interview with him regarding the seven cases, but he declined our request.

According to the rules of the JBC, which vets nominees to the judiciary and to the Office of the Ombudsman, contenders with pending administrative and criminal cases may face disqualification.

The JBC in 2009 disqualified then Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera on similar grounds in 2009.

Casimiro is the first on the list of nominees to be interviewed this morning by the JBC. To follow him are former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez and human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno.

Chavez and Diokno had defended the two opposing sides in the Kuratong Baleleng case, which is now appropriate to discuss given the arrival on Sunday of one of its suspects, former Police Senior Supt. Michael Ray Aquino.

Chavez was one of the initial counsels for the police generals who were charged with murder in the celebrated case, while Diokno was one of the lawyers of the victims.

Dangerous precedent

Malacañang’s recent dismissal of the case against Casimiro “sets a dangerous precedent,” one of the complainants, assistant special prosecutor Rohermia Jamsani-Rodriguez told Newsbreak.

Rodriguez was one of the assistant special prosecutors

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assigned in 2009 to handle the case charging now retired air force officers Lt. Gen. Leopoldo Acot and Brig. Gen. Ildefonso Dulinayan for the ghost deliveries of assorted military supplies amounting to P89 million in 1992.

The other prosecutor is Jennifer Agustin-Se. In the course of their investigation, both Rodriguez and Se discovered “procedural lapses” which they said led to the slow resolution and eventual dismissal of the case.

The case dates back to 1995, when the fact-finding group of the deputy ombudsman for military investigated Acot, Dulinayan and 13 other lower-ranking officers for the ghost deliveries of military supplies for the Fighter Wing of the Philippine Air Force in Basa Airbase, Pampanga.

In a resolution dated April 12, 1996, investigators Rainier Almazan and Rudiger Falcis recommended the filing of a criminal case against Acot and Dulinayan for violating sec.3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation of public funds.

Sec. 3.e of RA 3019 prohibits public officers from “Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”

It was Casimiro, who was then director of the Criminal and Administrative Investigation Bureau, who signed the resolution, along with then deputy ombudsman for the military Brig. Gen. Manuel Casaclang.

Upon review, however, special prosecution officer Reynaldo Mendoza recommended in July 1996 that the charges be modified and that the respondents, who include lower-ranking officers, be only charged with violating sec. 3.e of RA 3019.

Clearing the officers

Two years after, special prosecutor Leonard Tamayo issued a memorandum dated Jan. 12, 1998 dismissing the case against Acot and Dulinayan for lack of probable cause.

Then Ombudsman Aniano Desierto adopted Tamayo’s recommendation and issued a resolution on March 2 of the same year dismissing the case against the two military officers.

Because of the dismissal, the two were able to secure a clearance from the Office of the Ombudsman on Dec. 11, 2008.

Dulinayan went on to become the chairman of the Philippine Aerospace Development Corp., a government-controlled corporation, under the time of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Here’s the catch: 7 years after the dismissal of the case in 1998, complaints were drafted in 2005 for filing against lower-ranking officials who were allegedly involved in the multimillion-peso worth of ghost deliveries.

Casimiro, who was then deputy ombudsman for the military, chose not to sign these.

It was also in 2005 when the investigators of the case, Almazan and Falcis, noted that the main folder of the case was missing and recommended a review of the case. Casimiro approved their recommendation.

Then ombudsman Simeon Marcelo referred the case to the Office of Legal Affairs for review.

The OLA issued a memorandum in 2007 adopting the 1996 resolution of Mendoza, which recommended the modification, not the dismissal, of the charges against Acot and Dulinayan.

It was only after two years, on Feb. 23, 2009, when the findings of the OLA were approved by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Casimiro.

In October 2009, the case was resuscitated and charges were filed against Acot and Dulinayan at the 5th division of Sandiganbayan—15 years after the case against them was first recommended for filing.

Red flag

Rodriguez and Se were assigned to prosecute the case. They immediately faced by a roadblock, however:

Dulinayan and Acot filed a motion to quash, invoking their right to speedy disposition of the case, adding that they had already secured a clearance from the Office of the Ombudsman.

This served as a red flag for the two assistant special prosecutors ─ if both Dulinayan and Acot claimed that they were already cleared by the ombudsman in 1998, why did it take 7 years before their case was reviewed?

They said that it was highly suspicious that the records of the case languished in the Office of the Ombudsman for

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the military for seven years and only “resurfaced” in 2005.

The two traced the records of the case, where they found out about the 1998 resolution that also recommended the filing of information against lower-ranking officers involved in the P89-million ghost delivery scandal.

The two said that this only showed that Casimiro, who was then director of the Ombudsman’s office for the military in 1998, ignored the resolution and looked the other way.

Sensing irregularities, the two assistant special prosecutors submitted a memorandum to then Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa Ignacio on Jan. 5, 2010 seeking an administrative investigation of Casimiro.

But Casimiro fought back and issued the two a memorandum asking them to explain why they are not liable for libel and insubordination.

Later, Se was placed under a 6-month preventive suspension while Rodriguez was suspended. The two were able to seek a temporary restraining order in June 2010, which expired on August 24 of the same year.

Meanwhile in October 2010, the Sandiganbayan’s 5th division dismissed the case against Acot and Dulinayan.

Rodriguez and Se elevated their case against Casimiro to the Office of the President, but the OP ruled in favor of the overall deputy ombudsman.

In a decision dated June 14, 2011, the OP said that Casimiro lacked the authority to initiate the filing of information against lower officials as it required a directive from his superior, then deputy ombudsman for the military Casaclang.—Purple S. Romero

 

 

 

CATEGORY: The Judiciary
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  1. Rvl Gimenez says:

    Why is it that someone facing multiple cases can be considered as having a shot at becoming the Ombudsman while one with a single case has a scant chance, if he has one, of getting appointed office janitor in any government agency? A government human resources officer, spotting a pending case on the CV of an applicant for a janitorial position, quickly moves on to the next applicant’s papers. No interview. On the other hand, Casimiro gets to chew the fat with the JBC. What gives?

  2. Johnny Lin says:

    In another article, JBC member Mejia said that one of the grounds for disqualification on vetting applicants is “pending administrative case” which Casimiro has. No wonder he has been unclogging the Ombudsman file of stale and high profile cases to earn points on his Ombudsman quest. Convict or disbar him instead of advancing his application. What a prick!

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