Leonardia says on raps before Sandiganbayan: ‘It’s another ball game’
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia welcomed the new arena where cases against him and other city officials on the alleged overpriced furnitures and fixtures will be taken up, this time on the criminal aspect.
Leonardia said, the Sandiganbayan “is another playing field. This is another level of the judicial system. So for us, this is now an entirely new ballgame.”
He also said, “This is first to clarify that the Ombudsman case against us involving the procurement of furniture for the Bacolod Government Center actually covers two aspects – the administrative case and the criminal case.”
We fought the administrative case at the Court of Appeals (CA), which granted me a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the dismissal sanction of the Ombudsman. Eventually, in September 2017, the CA exonerated me and six other co-respondents on this administrative case while ruling that two other respondents were guilty only of “Simple Misconduct” for which they were penalized with a 3-month suspension. The Ombudsman then filed a motion for reconsideration on this decision, which is still pending resolution by the CA.
It should be noted that the facts in the administrative complaint are also the same as those in the criminal case. The latter case was filed only last week against us at the Sandiganbayan by the Ombudsman. I personally welcome the filing of this case at Sandiganbayan because, now, I and my fellow co-accused can avail of all legal options to, once and for all, clear our names of these charges, the mayor said.
We are very hopeful that the Sandiganbayan will see this case as the CA also saw it and, eventually, render judgment in our favor. As already mentioned, the facts of the case are exactly the same for both the administrative and criminal cases. So, we have valid reasons to be hopeful. Even the Ombudsman admits in its own resolution that there was no conspiracy and no evident bad faith in our handling of this procurement, and that all the furniture items were delivered. There was even no mention of over-price, the Bacolod mayor added.
“To our supporters, we assure you that we will fight this out in court. We believe the law and the facts of this case are on our side. Nevertheless, we ask for your prayers and continued support so that our consistent legal defense will win the day for us in the end,” Leonardia said.*(Edith B. Colmo)