QC treasurer seeks to stop Ombudsman

QUEZON City Treasurer Edgar Villanueva on Tuesday filed a motion for reconsideration with the Office of the Ombudsman to prevent his  dismissal from government service over the auction of the seven-hectare Manila Seedling Bank Foundation Inc.

In an interview, Villanueva said the Ombudsman has overlooked a “vital” piece of evidence that could clear him of the administrative case of grave abuse of authority.

 QC Treasurer Edgar Villanueva 
In a 20-page resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved Villanueva’s dismissal, perpetual disqualification from reemployment in the government service, cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

Special prosecutor I Loreto Cunanan recommended Villanueva’s removal from service, citing the Manila Seedling was auctioned for lack of a notice of assessment from the Quezon City assessor’s office.

The city treasurer, for his part, challenged the Ombudsman’s decision, saying he was the “less guilty” (among the respondents).

“The Ombudsman investigator has overlooked the revised form of tax declaration that has already incorporated the notice of assessment in it,” he told The Standard.

He said he did not err when he auctioned the seven-hectare property for tax delinquency of P57 million from 2001 to 2011.

“I can prove it [technically] based on solid evidence,” he added.

The Quezon City government, along with the Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and National Housing Authority, the lawful owner of the disputed land, planned to build the world’s tallest tower in the area to be called the Philippine Diamond Tower.

During the city’s 75th Diamond Jubilee foundation on Oct. 12, 2014, Quezon City, Mayor Herbert Bautista announced the tower’s construction in 2016.

A city hall source, however, told The Standard that the Manila Seedling represented by its president Leonardo Ligeralde may face another legal battle not with the Quezon City government, but with NHA.

“This, after NHA withdrew negotiations with Bautista to develop the site into a P15-billion 612-meter telecommunications tower,” he told The Standard.

“The Manila Seedling could not claim victory over the Ombudsman’s decision that the city’s auction was unlawful because NHA will not allow the Manila Seedling’s return to the disputed lot.”

The source said the mayor “felt bad about NHA’s change of mind.”

In 2012, Ligeralde filed charges of grave abuse of authority against Bautista, Department of Public Order and Safety head (ret. police) Elmo San Diego, then Quezon City Police District chief Mario de la Vega, ex-city administrator Victor Endriga, real-estate division head Jason Labao and ex-NHA general manager Chito Cruz for the takeover of the Manila Seedling.

The Ombudsman cleared all the accused, except for Villanueva.

According to the city treasurer, Ligeralde’s complaint zeroed in on the confiscation and demolition of the Manila Seedling’s administration office and tenants’ plant stalls for the development of the place into a telecommunications tower.

Topics: Edgar Villanueva , Office of the Ombudsman , Manila Seedling Bank Foundation Inc.
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