Ombudsman indicted Taguig mayor for ‘padlocking’ session hall

The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) on Wednesday filed charges before the Sandiganbayan against Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano for allegedly conspiring with another city official to prevent the city council from holding session in August 2010.

In the case filed before the Sandiganbayan, the Ombudsman also charged then Officer-in-Charge City Administrator Jose Luis Montales for violation of Article 143 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

The Ombudsman recommended bail at Php12,000 for each of the respondents.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved last August the filing of charges against the Taguig City mayor for the alleged premeditated and deliberate locking of the city government’s session hall in 2010.

In a resolution, the Ombudsman found probable cause that Cayetano and Montales violated Article 143 of the RPC by allegedly ordering the city hall’s personnel to padlock the session hall in time for the maiden assembly of the City Council or Sangguniang Panglungsod (SP) in August 2010.

Article 143 of the RPC penalizes persons who, “by force or fraud, prevent or tend to prevent the meetings of local legislative bodies.”

The Ombudsman noted that because of Cayetano and Montales’ act, the SP was forced to hold its maiden assembly and its next 14 sessions in the city hall’s staircase as the smaller city auditorium cannot accommodate the number of SP members.

Morales dismissed the respondents’ explanation that the move was part of the city’s re-engineering and re-organizational plan, noting that the respondents failed to present any project plan nor a semblance of a project study “that would validate the necessity of effecting immediate change in the layout of the city hall offices.”

“[The] documentary evidence, as well as respondents’ own admissions, belied their claim that any ‘re-organizational or re-engineering plan’ with respect to city hall offices actually existed,” the resolution said.