The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the two-year-old criminal and administrative charges filed by a disgruntled Subic Freeport locator against former Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman & Administrator Roberto V. Garcia and other officials of the agency.
Aside from Garcia, cleared by the Ombudsman were Deputy Administrator (DA) Randy B. Escolango, former DA for Administration Fernando R. De Villa, who is now with the Dept. of Social Welfare & Development (DSWD) and former SBMA Legal Dept. Manager Von Rodriguez.
“There is no probable cause to indict respondents for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019,” the Ombudsman said in its ruling, adding that “there is no substantial evidence to hold respondents administratively liable for Grave Misconduct and Oppression.”
Escolango, the only respondent still currently with the SBMA, said the Ombudsman’s dismissal of the charges filed by one Isagani Cabrera of Fahrenheit Co. Ltd., proves that “while anybody may file charges against anybody, the law eventually exonerates those who are not guilty.”
The cases stemmed from the P6.5M sale of scrap materials consisting of equipment, machineries and furniture at Building 1800, which was an electric power plant when the Freeport was still a US Naval Base.
Ombudsman records show that the scrap materials were originally awarded in 2012 by the SBMA Disposal Committee headed by De Villa to BONAPOR, a company engaged in the handling, processing, sale and disposal of scrap materials.
However, BONAPOR repeatedly failed to complete its “pending obligation conditioned on specific undertakings” which included the “dismantling and hauling works” and “payment of storage fees.”
On April 16, 2015, BONAPOR wrote a letter to SBMA claiming that Fahrenheit has illegally taken control of Building 1800, prompting SBMA to send its officers to the site where eight (8) employees of Fahrenheit were found “loading assorted metal scraps from the building to a white forward truck.”
The Ombudsman established that the personnel of Fahrenheit were not arrested but were questioned by the SBMA Law & Enforcement (LED).
Fahrenheit protested SBMA’s move, “claiming that it was the assignee-buyer of BONAPOR of what remains at Building 1800” but BONAPOR, in a letter to the SBMA, “questioned the sale of the scrap metals to Fahrenheit” prompting the “SBMA through respondent Garcia” to “separately wrote BONAPOR and Fahrenheit advising them that it was investigating the matter and posed whether there was prior coordination with the SBMA of their transaction.”
“Complainant failed to show that respondents unlawfully prohibited, much less arbitrarily deprived Fahrenheit of its ownership over the scrap metals in Building 1800,” said the Ombudsman’s ruling, penned by Graft Investigation & Prosecution Officer Maxlen C. Balanan and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
The ruling said Fahrenheit “failed to show that a CRTE (Certificate of Registration and Tax Exemption) or a business permit for its hauling activities was issued by SBMA” and “failed to show that it complied with all the requirements of SBMA.” ###