TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal of Mayor Jefferson Soriano of this city for grave misconduct and abuse of authority in connection with the operation of a transport terminal he granted without authorization from the city council.
In a 16-page decision, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Warlito Biwang ordered Soriano’s dismissal after he issued a provisional permit to One-Way Parking Terminal, Inc. (OWPTI) in December 2013.
The Ombudsman said Soriano’s act gave “unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference” to OWPTI by disregarding the powers of the city council to determine “what’s best for the inhabitants of the city.”
It also added that “[Soriano] abused his authority and flagrantly disregarded established rule since he put the cart before the horse.”
However, Soriano explained that the city has long tolerated illegal parking terminals and that it would only cause delay if the approval is coursed through a legislative franchise.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Sany Grace Bayangan, a member and secretary of a transport group operating in the city.
Bayangan said that on October 8, 2013 the city mayor gave an advisory that all public utility vehicles (PUVs) – buses, vans and passenger jeeps – be relocated to the OWPTI area pursuant to a city ordinance which prohibits PUV terminals in the heart of the city.
She claimed that transport operators were “harassed, oppressed and coerced” as a result of Soriano’s directive when the transport groups’ did not comply with the directive to relocate to OWPTI.
Informed of the Ombudsman order, Soriano said he will reply to it as a matter of right as he denied the accusation.
“I did not give any favor to any transport organization or to OWPTI, neither did I direct transport groups to transfer to OWPTI terminal,” he said.
The dismissal is the second time the Ombudsman has ordered against Soriano; the first one was during his 2013-2016 term also as mayor.
In 2014, Soriano was ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman for grave misconduct for allegedly issuing an unauthorized permit to a businesswoman.
However, the ruling was reversed by the Court of Appeals and instead ordered Soriano suspended for three months as penalty for simple misconduct.