Friday, February 14, 2020

More eMedia charges vs. Beng dismissed

THE OFFICE of the Ombudsman dismissed two more cases filed by eMedia (Television) against Zamboanga Mayor Beng Climaco for lack of probable cause.

The two cases were filed by eMedia on March 13, 2018. Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Vivian Jumilla signed the resolution dated August 29, 2018 and was only received by City Hall recently. 

The latest decision of the Office of the Ombudsman brought to 6 the number of dismissed eMedia charges against the popular mayor.

Cases No. OMB-M-C-18-0140 for violation of Section 3(e) and (f) of RA 3019, and No. OMB-M-A-18-0154 for conduct unbecoming of a public official; grave misconduct; violations of RA (Republic Act) 6713; and RA 9485 were all dismissed in connection to eMedia’s operation without a business permit and the closure order issued by City Hall.

Following the trail of documents, notices and even dialogues on the issue, and the evidence on records, the Ombudsman said it found that the elements for violation of Section 3(e) and (f) of RA 3019 were not established.

“It was not shown that respondent Climaco had caused any undue injury to the government or to any party. Neither was it established that she gave unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to any party or individual, or that respondent acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence in performing her official functions,” it said.

“Climaco’s refusal to act on the permits applied for by eMedia was anchored on legal and valid grounds, and was very well within her powers, duties and functions as mayor as provided under Section 455(b)(3)(iv) of the Local Government Code,” the Ombudsman added.

As to the complaint for violation of RA 9485, the Ombudsman said: “The same was also unavailing in the absence of sufficient evidence to show that respondent had committed any acts enumerated under Section 11 of the law. The holding in abeyance of the processing of the permits was justified by valid reasons as narrated in the respondent’s counter-affidavit.”

Just recently, the Ombudsman dismissed two cases filed by eMedia in December 17 against Climaco, City Administrator Marie Angelique Go and members of the City Teodyver Arquiza, Elbert Atilano, Al-Jihan Edding, Juan Climaco Elago II, Tungkuh Hanapi, Cesar Jimenez, Charlie Mariano, Josephine Pareja and Jimmy Villaflores.

It found no probable cause and substantial evidence against Climaco and the others who were accused of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 and Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code, and OMB-M-A-17-0599 for conduct prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, Dishonesty, Grave Abuse Authority, Grave Misconduct, Oppression and violation of RA No. 6713.

The Ombudsman also found no probable cause to indict council members for violation of Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code as “they merely expressed support to the action taken by the city government. For essentially the same reasons and for lack of substantial evidence, respondents are not administratively liable. Wherefore, the complaints were dismissed.”

The charges stemmed from the operation of eMedia without a Mayor’s permit and the eventual issuance of a closure order by Climaco and the councilors who passed a resolution supporting the move.

In a 10-page Joint Resolution dated December 18, 2018, a copy of which was received only on February 3, 2020 by the City Legal Office and made public Wednesday, the Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Rey Mar Ondi found no evidence showing that respondents had acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence in order to warrant their indictment for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019.

The Ombudsman further stressed that procedural due process was complied with considering that several notices were in fact sent to eMedia prior to the issuance of the closure order. Also a dialogue was held between the concerned parties.

Records showed that eMedia, which has been in the multimedia business since 2013, entered into a management contract with Westwind Broadcasting Corporation, a legitimate broadcasting corporation, to be the latter’s sole and exclusive program and content producer in Zamboanga City.

Last year, the Ombudsman also junked two other charges filed by eMedia against Climaco. There was no immediate reaction from eMedia.

Climaco has repeatedly reminded business owners and operators to comply with the local government requirements if they want to operate here. Citing, Section 6.2 of the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Department of Trade and Industry Joint Memorandum Circular 01, Series 2016, she said all business permit applicants are mandated to comply with national laws and regulatory requirements.

“Among the legal essentials are proof of business registration, business capitalization, occupancy permit, contract of lease and barangay [village] clearance. For other industries, such as media, a business permit can only be obtained if the said outfit has complied with statutory requirements specifically the legislative or congressional franchise to operate,” Climaco said.

“Based on records, a number of business establishments are not compliant with requirements under the law and are facing sanctions. Under the Local Government Code, the chief executive is empowered to impose penalties on violators of the law. This, based on Section 16 of RA No. 7160 or Local Government Code, which states that every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate or incidental for its efficient and effective governance and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare,” she said. (Zamboanga Post)

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