The Sandiganbayan has cleared former Misamis Occidental Gov. Loreto Leo Ocampos of malversation filed by an ally of his political opponent in connection with a marine park controversy.
“Obviously, it was a politically motivated case and I’m thankful to the court decision to declare me not guilty of the charge,” Ocampos said.
Wherefore, premises considered, the Court finds and holds accused Ocampos and Akhavan not guilty of malversation under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code in Criminal Case No. SB-15-CRM-0088” stated the 57-page court decision that was promulgated on Dec. 5, 2018.
The order was penned by Associate Justice Kevin Narce B. Vivero of the Sandiganbayan 6th Division and concurred by Chairperson Associate Justice Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl B. Miranda.
After several years of hiatus in politics and devoting all his time in organizing and educating farmers on organic farming in the province and nearby areas, Ocampos has decided to return to politics by filing his certificate of candidacy for the 2019 mid-term elections.
Ocampos was a three-term governor from 2001 to 2010.
The court said Ocampos’ malversation charges were dismissed due to lack of proof that public funds were misappropriated for private use.
The complaint against him and foreign investor Foad Akhavan over the Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park project was filed on March 15, 2011 by private complainant Oscar Visitacion, a known ally of then Ozamis City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, a suspected narco-politician who was killed and some other members of the family and supporters in connection with the aggressive anti-drug campaign of the Duterte administration.
A few months before the complaint following Ocampos’ end of term as governor of the province, he filed 14 criminal and administrative complaints for graft and corruption against Parojinog.
Ocampos argued that the MOA between MOAP is a joint venture, not a build-operate-transfer (BOT) agreement and hence, no public bidding was necessary.
He also maintained that he did not give unwarranted benefits to Akhavan.
Ocampos was accused of not providing a scheme for the collection of supposed 30% share in the net income of Akhavan Facilities but he contended that he provided for it in the term of contract and profit-sharing scheme stipulated in the MOA.
The profit-sharing scheme states that “the Second Party shall remit to the First Party thirty percent (30%) of the net income from operation at the facility.”
He added that because the project operated at a loss, the provincial government was not able to collect its 30% share.
Ocampos also upheld that he did not hire and pay employees for the Akhavan facilities. He said that the prosecution admitted that they have no proof that he approved or signed the contracts and payroll of workers in the MOAP.