Mayor Rama includes Osmeña’s sister Minnie and nephew in plaint filed with Ombudsman

Posted on September 19, 2012

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Accompanied by around 100 supporters, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama yesterday filed a complaint against Rep. Tomas Osmeña with the Visayas Ombudsman for accepting two US-made Chrysler sedans from an investor instead of turning them over to the city government.

Included in the complaint are the congressman’s eldest sister Minnie Osmeña Stuart and her son Paulo because one of the cars was recently registered under their names.

The mayor said the two family members were “equally liable” with Osmeña for “the crime of solicitiation and/or acceptance of gifts” in the course of Osmena’s official duties as former mayor.

Rama’s formal complaint capped three weeks of controversy over the cars, one of them a black-and-white lookalike police patrol car. Both cars originally belonging to Michael Gleissner, owner of Bigfoot Entertainment, a close friend of Osmena and was the first locator to invest in the city-owned South Road Properties in 2007.

The mayor asked the Ombdusman to investigate the congressman and his relatives for allegedly violating four laws:

Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act

Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standars for Public Officials and Employees and

Presidential Decree No. 46

Art. 179 of the Revised Penal Code, which punishes the illegal use of insignia.

He said Osmena’s “solicitation and/or acceptance of the vehicles donated by Gleissner of Bigfoot Entertainment” was a clear violation of Sec. B, c and e of the anti-graft law or RA 3019 “against receiving any gift” in connection with a government transaction where the official had to intervene and “causing undue injury” to any party including the government.

Rama was referring to Bigfoot’s 25-year lease contract with Cebu City for a two-hectare area in the SRP and negotiated purchase of 16 hectares when Osmena was still mayor.

Rama, citing media interviews, also said the congressman openly admitted that he “pushed” for Gleissner’s application for Philippine citizenship in the House of Representatives and the Senate where it was secured through his intervention.

“Tomas’ acceptance of the vehicles for himself instead of turning it over to the City of Cebu which was the original intended donee, deprived the city of its rightful ownership and use,” the mayor said.

The mayor impleaded Osmena’s sister and nephew because the cars were eventually donated to them.

Section 4 is a prohibition on private individuals with family or close personal relations with public officials who take advantage of the relationship by “requesting or receiving any present, gift” from a party having some government transaction where that official has to intervene.

Under RA No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, the mayor cited Osmena for violating the law which prohibits “public officials and employees from accepting, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.”

The mayor said, “The mere receipt by Tomas of the cars donated by Gleissner is of itself punishable as the act was done by reason of Tomas’ official position as then mayor of the City of Cebu.”

He cited PD No. 46 which also punishes public officials who receives a gift of value “by reason of his official position, regardless of whether or not the same is for a past favor.”

As a fourth law, Rama cited the congressman for misusing the seal of the Cebu City government on one of the vehcles.

The illegal use of uniforms or insignia is a violation of Art. 179 of the Revised Penal Code.

The mayor said the use of the seal, overhead sirens and markings “Cebu City Police” on the cars violate this law.

Osmena’s plans to repaint the vehilces were an afterthough, said Rama.

“The fact remains that for three years, he has been using illegally an official insignia,” he said.

Rama requested the anti-graft office to conduct a preliminary investigation.

“Clearly, Osmena’s acts constitue grave misconduct and dishonesty against the public and cast his integrity in bad light. His actuations are unbecoming of a public officer especially a mayor and a congressman,” he said.

Before Rama filed the complaint, Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol said he started a fact-finding inquiry based on media reports and docketed the case.

According to Mayor Rama, Osmeña accepted the two Dodge vehicles worth P2 million donated by Bigfoot Entertainment sometime in 2009.

He said the donation was publicized and repeatedly acknowledged by Osmeña and his wife Margot.

The cars would go to the Cebu City Police Office and were used by policemen assigned in the SRP where Bogfoot Entertainment’s film making facilities are located.

Based on newspaper interviews, which Rama cited in his complaint, Gleisssner changed his mind about donating the vehicles to the city after learning that Osmena was about to end his tenure as mayor in 2010.

Rama said the congressman had the vehicle repainted black and white with the official seal of the Cebu City government to “hide his anomalous receipt” to make the vehicles look like escort vehicles.

“To further cover up his crime,” said the mayor, Osmena had the vehicles trasnferred to his sister Minnie and son Paulo after his use for three years.

Attached was a transaction record of the Land Transportation Office mentioning an entry of a Deed of Sale on June 29, 2012 for one black and white Chrysler Dodge Charger currenlty owned by Paolo Osmena. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter

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