Ombudsman dismisses anew Musa’s cases vs city officials

Erstwhile City Councilor Ismael Musa has suffered another debacle in his series of legal battles against city government officials after he was ousted as Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative in the Sangguniang Panlungsod, this time the Ombudsman dismissed for want of substantial evidence the cases he filed against his successor Tungkuh Hanapi, Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde, City Human Resource Management Officer Jane Bascar, and a former casual employee Hussayin Arpa.

The case stemmed from Arpa’s alleged illegal appointment to a casual plantilla status (Administrative Aide I) as one of Hanapi’s staff in November 2016 and December 2016 despite having lost his candidacy as SP member (District 2) in the May 9, 2016 elections.

Musa claimed that respondents Iturralde, Baskar and Hanapi had conspired in approving Arpa’s appointment, a violation of the one-year prohibition under Sec. 6, Article 9 (b) of the 1987 Constitution, and Sec. 94 of the Local Government Code of 1991.

He further alleged that Arpa’s appointment was a form of payment or gift from respondents Iturralde, Bascar and Hanapi for his active participation in ousting him (Musa) as IPMR, which was bolstered by Arpa’s assignment to the Zamboanga City Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Office.

According to him, the inaction of Iturralde, Bascar and Hanapi in the face of such irregularities proved their concerted action to lawfully appoint Arpa.

In their counter affidavits, both Iturralde and Bascar denied having knowledge in Arpa’s 2016 SP candidacy.

Iturralde said he did not even see respondent’s Personal Data Sheet (PDS), and that Bascar had already certified the Plantilla of Casual Appointment and having full trust and confidence on her being the HRMO, he signed the same.

For her part, Bascar said she merely attested to Arpa’s compliance with the checklist of requirements and documents as required by law, which duty is merely ministerial on her part.

Both Iturralde and Bascar averred that no undue injury was caused to the government, there being restitution of Arpa’s total salary received. The allegation of conspiracy was likewise without basis, there being no inaction on their part after the subject appointment reached their knowledge; and there were no irregularities committed in Arpa’s detail with the DILG.

Hanapi, on the other hand, also denied having knowledge of Arpa’s candidacy in the May 2016 elections as his PDS did not state so. He relied in good faith with the opinion of the Civil Service Commission that Arpa was not covered by the CS Rules as a member of the Indigenous People, and that Arpa was not appointed to a government service or position covered by the CS law as he was a mere casual employee.

Arpa, who resigned on March 13, 2017 before the case was filed on March 20, 2017, contended that his appointment was in the nature of a job order, thus falls outside of the prohibition. He said the complainant (Musa) was moved by revenge for his ouster as IPMR.

With all the foregoing, the Ombudsman’s Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Leilah G. Hernandez ruled that the allegation of conspiracy among respondents had no factual basis, and there was also nothing to support the allegation that Arpa’s appointment was a gift from Iturralde, Bascar and Hanapi. There was also no evidence of inaction.

Likewise, in a Joint Resolution dated January 8, 2018, the Ombudsman dismissed for want of substantial evidence the administrative case against respondent city officials. As to respondent Arpa, the Office has no jurisdiction against him as he had already resigned effective March 13, 2017. Thus, the cases were dismissed.-(Vic Larato)