DILG to probe OsmeAa over ‘clearing’ of Cebu City mayor’s office

MANILA -The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is set to investigate former Cebu City Mayor Tomas OsmeAa over his order to remove all facilities and furniture in his office shortly before stepping down from his post.

The DILG will investigate the reported act of former Cebu Mayor Osmena of stripping the Mayor's office of everything from ceiling to floor tiles rendering it unusable and completely bare. The investigation will uncover the facts of this matter, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told reporters on Monday.

He said as a general rule, an official may only remove movable furniture and fixtures such as chairs, tables, and computers that are his part of personal property when he ends his term.

But the act of even removing what are considered immovable objects like ceiling, walls, and the tiles is already bad faith because it renders the office, which is government property, as unusable by his successor and therefore affects the delivery of public service to the people of Cebu City. Under the Civil Code, immovable improvements may only be removed by the owner if it does not cause damage or injury to the work constructed, Malaya explained.

He also suggested that OsmeAa should have filed a claim for indemnification for all the immovable improvements that he introduced to the office so that reimbursements should have been made.

But to strip the mayor's office of everything is strange, uncalled for, and could expose the mayor to legal action for violation of various laws in [Republic Act] 3019 for causing injury to the government, Malaya pointed out.

Epimaco Densing III, DILG undersecretary, meanwhile said OsmeAa should prove that he indeed paid personally for the improvements in his former office.

[OsmeAa] needs to prove that since all the things inside the office is government property, Densing said in a radio interview Monday.

Densing said the newly-elected local government officials should file before the Office of the Ombudsman charges for destroying government properties and for failing to adhere to the agency's order for the proper transition of the office.

We assume that those are government property unless proven otherwise. Second, (former) Mayor OsmeAa can face charges because first of all, we issued a memorandum circular signed by Secretary Eduardo AAo that there must be proper transition. It seems he did not cooperate with the transition and because of that, he can face administrative charges, he said.

He can be also held criminally liable at the Office of the Ombudsman because it can be considered damage to property. The government has to spend taxpayers' money to restore government property, he added.

Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella defeated OsmeAa in the May 13 mid-term elections.

The former mayor had said that he paid for the repair of the office in 2010 with his friends amounting to PHP2 million since the budget had been rejected by Labella, who was the council head back then.

Labella was surprised when he found the mayor's office vandalized where it was disconnected from its plumbing system and electrical connection, the ceiling and tiles were stripped off and no furniture were left aside from the two industrial air-conditioners and some chairs. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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