September 30, 2023


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JHO lawyer

Atty. Inocencio Dela Serna, Jr. (right) accompanied by his associate Atty. Jesus Claro "Clark" Cebrian. Photo by Allan Defensor


By Tonton Alcos Antogop


Toledo City Mayor John Henry Osmena (JHO) wants the inhibition of Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente in the earlier request for investigation of the P210 million clean and green program of the city.

The controversy appears to be a case of plunder but Osmena wanted the inhibition of Clemente because the Visayas Ombudsman is the University of the Philippines (UP) law classmate of Atty. Pablo John Garcia who earlier filed the request for investigation. “We have found out that indeed the Ombudsman for the Visayas who is Paul Clemente and the complainant PJ Garcia were classmates in the UP College of Law year 1993. With that information we have filed a motion for inhibition against the entire office of the Ombudsman Visayas basing on that fact,” Osmena’s lawyer Inocencio Dela Serna, Jr. , said, in a press conference.

Dela Serna cited jurisprudence and legal basis on the need for Clemente’s inhibition as it “would create misimpression of bias, partiality and prejudgment.” Garcia who is running for Congressman in the Cebu 3rd district against Osmena admitted that Clemente is his law school classmate but denies being closed to the Ombudsman official. Incidentally, in the 1993 bar exams, Garcia is the highest ranked among the UP breed lawyers that took the rigid test as he ranked 4th overall in the Top 10. According to Garcia he never spoken to Clemente after law school, adding, the same official had ruled unfavorably on his two brothers, former Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia and Barili Mayor Marlon Garcia.

“While it is true that we belonged to the same class in UP Law, I have not talked to Deputy Ombudsman Clemente since we graduated from law school. Remember: this is the same Deputy Ombudsman who dismissed my brother Mayor Nelson from the service and suspended my brother Mayor Marlon. So that should give you an idea of my relationship with Deputy Ombudsman Clemente,” Garcia told when asked for his reaction. Nelson who is running as 7th district Congressman was ordered dismissed then from the service along with some others for appointing a certain Emmylou Cabonilas as acting secretary of the municipal council from being its information officer. The Court of Appeals (CA) however overturned the decision.

In the case of Mayor Marlon, Clemente’s office suspended the Mayor for six months and other municipal officials last year for simple neglect of duty for over paying the leave credits of town councilor Shiela Pason. Atty. Dela Serna who was accompanied by his associate Atty. Jesus Claro “Clark” Cebrian also lashed out at Garcia for applying “selective prosecution” for not including Toledo City Councilor Arlene “Daydee” Zambo in his request for the investigation. Zambo is an ally of Garcia. She is running as Toledo City Mayor, a post which Zambo held before.

Garcia told Osmena to include Zambo in the complaint if the Mayor has evidence against Zambo. “If Mayor Osmena feels that Councilor Dydee should be included and has documents to prove it, then he should submit his complaint with the Ombudsman. But the bottom line is: let the Ombudsman investigate it.” Asked on the claim of Osmena that he is lagging the race, Garcia said the opposite. “Our surveys show otherwise. Sonny Osmena and Gaye Yapha are fighting over 30{a21e6da08482d397a607007d7d78265068006afe8b45ef39eb0952d5fa730076} of the vote while I am in the high 60’s. Maybe this is why, as Gaye Yapha claims, Osmena wants her to withdraw and is willing to pay. Because there is no way he can win this 3-way fight,” Garcia said.

In his request to the Ombudsman, Garcia alleged that “ghost employees” were involved in the implementation of P210M funded project. The persons supposedly hired as Job Order (J.O.) workers were mostly fictitious, several were not registered voters of Toledo City and the payrolls that were made to claim the salaries were product of forgeries as the signatures were forged. The money came in three tranches in the second half of 2018 were an estimated total of 4,760 ghost employees were involved. “The bottom line is: let the Ombudsman investigate it. I don’t mind who investigates it as long as the matter is investigated” the bar topnotcher turned two-termer congressman said. Osmena, 83, was former Senator and Congressman before he opted to become Toledo City Mayor.

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