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Ombudsman clears Duty free execs

The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the plunder, graft and administrative cases lodged against Duty Free Philippines Corp. chief operating officer Vicente Angala and three co-respondents due to lack of evidence.

Also named as respondents were former COO Lorenzo Formoso, former Human Resources Management Division manager Roberto Policarpio, and former Physical Distribution Department manager Manolito Canlas.

The cases stemmed from a complaint filed by 10 Duty Free employees accusing the respondents of having financial and pecuniary interest with DFP Services Inc., a former manpower service contractor of Duty Free. The complainants claimed the respondents allegedly enriched themselves from the said service contract.

Angala and the other respondents were also accused of allegedly neglecting or refusing to act on the complainants’ request for retroactive appointments, thereby depriving them of their salaries and benefits.

But according to the 22-page resolution approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires late last year that was only recently released, there was no probable cause for the criminal offenses charged.

The Ombudsman said the business of DFPSI in which Angala allegedly participated or profited from has no relation or connection with his official capacity as then manager for Duty Free’s International Department.

“It is not enough to be a public official to be subject to this crime; it is necessary that by reason of his office, he has to intervene in said contracts or transactions; and hence, the official who intervenes in contracts or transactions which have no relation to his office cannot commit this crime,” read the ruling.

On the charge of plunder, the Ombudsman ruled that the Commission on Audit reports of alleged overpayment made by Duty Free to DFPSI do not substantiate the claims of the complainants that the respondents amassed wealth from it.

The Ombudsman noted that since no disallowance was issued by COA, it meant the audit body found the explanations and comment proffered by the then Duty Free management as meritorious with regard to the fees paid for the service contract.

It added that aside from the COA reports cited by the complainants, no other relevant evidence was presented to substantiate such claims.

“On the administrative aspect of the complaint, the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law or flagrant and palpable breach of duty are not manifested in the present case. In the absence of evidence, what will prevail is the presumption that respondents regularly performed their duties,” the Ombudsman said in its ruling.

Angala, for his part, welcomed the decision of the Ombudsman.

“For quite some time, I have kept mum against all these allegations. It is very unfortunate that some people will spin the facts to destroy one’s reputation to their advantage,” he said.

“I now look forward to working in unity with my DFPC family to earnestly fulfill our mandate of supporting the tourism industry,” Angala added.

Topics: Office of the Ombudsman , Duty Free Philippines Corp. , Vicente Angala
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