• CDO mayor faces graft over tax deal

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    The Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to file graft charges before the Sandiganbayan against Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno and former Public Services Officer Glenn Bañez over a settlement for a firm’s tax liabilities that the city entered into in 2014.

    They will be facing violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

    Section 3(e) prohibits public officials from causing undue injury to any party, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of their official administrative or judicial functions…, while Section 3(g) prohibits them from entering on the government’s behalf into any contract or transaction that is manifestly or grossly disadvantageous to the same.

    According to a statement issued by the office on Wednesday, the Ombudsman found that Bañez issued a Notice of Assessment to Ajinomoto covering its supposed P2.9-million local business tax deficiency from 2006 to 2012.

    Cagayan de Oro, supposedly in exchange for Ajinomoto’s withdrawal of the civil case it filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Misamis Oriental, entered into a Settlement Agreement with Waiver, Release and Quitclaim in 2014 accepting the firm’s offer of P300,000 as full settlement.

    Bañez said the deal was entered into because “there was no guarantee that it will win the case in the RTC and that the case might drag all the way to the Supreme Court.”

    But Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales gave no credence to the claim and said “Moreno and Bañez gave Ajinomoto unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference when they entered into the agreement with the latter without the required authorization from the City Council.”

    REINA C. TOLENTINO

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