The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the order of the Office of the Ombudsman to sack Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog in connection with his alleged ill-gotten wealth.
In a four-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando of the Special 1st Division, the court dismissed the petition for certiorari of Mabilog for lack of merit.
Mabilog asked the court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the Ombudsman’s order.
Mabilog, who is on leave, has been tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the mayors on his list of politicians involved in illegal drugs.
Mabilog has denied his involvement in the drug trade.
“(T)he instant petition for certiorari with prayer for a Temporary Restraining Order/Writ of Preliminary Injunction is Dismissed,” the resolution read.
The appeals court pointed out that Mabilog elevated his case using the wrong mode of appeal.
The mayor used Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which was a petition for certiorari instead of Rule 43, which is petition for review on certiorari.
“Mabilog’s case, involving as it does an administrative charge resulting in his dismissal from service, does not fall under any of the foregoing circumstance. As the current petition for certiorari is concededly an erroneous mode of review, its dismissal is in order,” the court said.
“That appeals from decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative disciplinary cases should be taken to the Court of Appeals by way of a petition for review under Rule 43 has been settled as early as the 1998 ruling of the Supreme Court in Fabian v Desierto,” it said.
The CA ruling was concurred by Acting Presiding Remedies Salazar-Fernando and Justice Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles.
In the decision that Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang approved on October 6, the Ombudsman found Mabilog administratively liable for serious dishonesty over his “unlawful acquisition of wealth.”
“Accordingly, he is meted the penalty of dismissal from the service with cancellation of civil service eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and barred from taking civil service examinations,” the Office of the Ombudsman said in its decision.
Mabilog filed a leave of absence on September 11 to seek medical attention abroad and has not returned since.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued a memorandum circular on October 18 appointing Vice Mayor Jose Espinosa 3rd as chief executive of Iloilo City upon the directive of the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman’s decision stemmed from a complaint filed by Michael Mejorada, which attached the 2013 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of Mabilog showing an increase in his net worth by over P8.981million.
In his counter affidavit, Mabilog claimed that “[h]is family was already deemed financially well-off prior to [his]joining public office.”
He said that the salary of his wife, who worked for at least 20 years as a comptroller of a Canada-based company, “allowed them to live a good life.”
The Ombudsman said that “[w]hile the ITBRs and TRs showed that his wife earned a substantial salary from 2007-2009 and 2010-2012, and which tend to prove lawful source of income for those years or up to 2012, respondent, however, failed to present proof of his wife’s lawful source of income from her employment in Canada for 2013. As it is, for 2011 and 2012…”
ITBRs are Income Tax and Benefits Returns while TRs are Tax Reassessments.
The graft prosecutors added that the mayor failed to present proof of income from the business interests disclosed in his SALNs “thus, there is prima facie evidence of unexplained wealth.”
The penalty of dismissal is convertible to a fine equivalent to his one-year salary, in case the penalty is no longer enforceable.
“It shall be understood the accessory penalties attached to the principal penalty of dismissal shall continue to be imposed,” according to the ruling.