THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed a decision of the Office of the Ombudsman finding several police officers administratively liable for the unlawful raid on Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. (MVGC) in Camarines Sur in the Bicol Region in 2009.
In a ruling written by Associate Justice Florito Macalino and concurred in by Associate Justices Amy Lazaro-Javier and Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles, the CA’s Special 10th Division denied a petition for review filed by Police Senior Supt. Jonathan Ablang, among others.
On October 30, 2009, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) decided in favor of Meridien and issued a writ of mandamus directing the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) or any other persons acting under its control and direction to allow the firm to continue with its gaming operations in accordance with the license already granted to it.
In December 2009, the local court issued an order stating that its decision had become final and executory.
But on April 8, 2010, Ablang and other police officers arrested and charged Meridien’s employees and seized all pieces of property used in the business operations of its online betting stations in the towns of Goa, Sagnay and San Jose, without first obtaining the necessary warrants.
The complaints filed against Meridien’s employees were dismissed by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Camarines Sur on April 19, 2010.
According to Meridien, despite the finality of decision of the RTC of Aparri, Cagayan allowing them to continue with their operations, the police persisted in their campaign against their online betting stations.
The Ombudsman found all respondents, including Ablang, guilty of simple misconduct as it meted them the penalty of three months’ suspension from office without pay, pushing them to seek redress with the appellate court.
In its March 2, 2017 decision that was released to the media only recently, the CA upheld the October 31, 2014 and the April 30, 2015 orders of the Ombudsman as it denied Ablang, et al.’s petitions for review.
“The actions of the petitioners clearly demonstrate a disregard of well-known legal rules, thus they are rightfully found guilty of simple misconduct,” it said.