Ombudsman dismisses graft charges vs Hagedorn

Cherry Camacho, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2017 07:52 PM

Edward Hagedorn

PALAWAN - The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the graft case of former Puerto Princesa nayor Edward Hagedorn in connection with the planned privatization of 2 public markets and a slaughterhouse that did not undergo bidding.

The order was approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on December 15, 2016, the same day the Ombudsman signed the dismissal order of Mayor Lucilo Bayron for concealing the relationship with his son and appointing as casual employee.

The complaint against Hagedorn, filed by "Mga Magtitinda ng Puerto Princesa, Incorporated" as represented by Teresa Gabayan, was dismissed by the Ombudsman due to lack of probable cause.

In early 2012, Hagedorn requested the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) to look if it is possible to privatize the public markets and the slaughterhouse. The city council passed a resolution which interposed no objection to the conduct of a study on the privatization of the said government enterprises.

On December 19, 2012, Hagedorn asked the city council to give him authorization to privatize the operations of said government enterprises.

December 26, 2012, complainant Gabayan wrote a complaint letter fearing said action would result in higher rent fees in the market.

On December 27, 2012, the City Council passed a resolution (Resolution No. 763-2012) authorizing Hagedorn to negotiate with any qualified proponent for the management and operation of the public markets and slaughter house.

January 2013, Hagedorn requested for authority to enter into a contract of lease with Areza-Cruz Realty Development Company, Inc. (ACRDCI) and it was executed on March 19, 2013.

On April 18 2013, Rocamora issued Administrative Order No. 067 and designated the members of the transition team for the lease contract of the city’s facilities. Hagedorn approved Ordinance 554 4 days later.

Gabayan claimed that the contract was anomalous since Hagedorn had no authority to sign a contract, as Ordinance 554 was approved after the mayor had already cut a deal with Areza-Cruz company.

After analyzing the evidence and the submissions of the parties, the Ombudsman said it is not authorized to invalidate contracts and declare Ordinance 554 null and void, and presumes the same to be valid.

Neither did the Ombudsman rule on if RA 7718 (An act amending certain sections of RA 6957, entitled "An act authorizing the financing construction, operation and maintenance of infrastracture projects by the private sector and for other purposes") should apply to the case.

Aside from Hagedorn, the Ombudsman also cleared city councilors Modesto Rodriguez II, Henry Gadiano, former city council members Miguel Cuaderno IV, Vicky de Guzman, Fernie Mae Asuncion, Erwin Edualino, Mark David Hagedorn, Patrick Hagedorn, Rafaelita Oliveros, acting city legal officer Shirley Daganta, city administrator Agustin Rocamora, and developers Cesar Areza and Alexander Cruz.

Hagedorn expressed happiness after the decision.