WATCH | Ombudsman confirms Mabilog’s dismissal, but Duterte says move ‘very, very late’

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File photo of Iloilo Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog from his Facebook page

(UPDATED — 3:17 a.m., Oct. 28, 2017) MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog after he failed to sufficiently explain the almost P9-million increase in his wealth.

News reports came out last Thursday saying that the office found Mabilog guilty of serious dishonesty because “within one year,” the mayor’s “net worth increased by P8,983,082.52, which by any standard, was grossly disproportionate to his legitimate income as a public official and businessman.”

The reports said the ruling was dated Aug. 29, 2017 but was only released recently.

Through its official Twitter account, the Office of the Ombudsman confirmed on Friday, Oct. 27, that there was such a ruling against Mabilog. It said the decision was approved by Overall Deputy Ombudsman M. Carandang last Oct. 6.

The office added that it had already instructed the Department of the Interior and Local Government to immediately implement the dismissal order.

Duterte: ‘Very, very late’ move

But President Rodrigo Duterte wasn’t impressed by the Ombudsman’s office “late” move, claiming the latter only acted against Mabilog to make it appear that it was supporting him.

In his speech on Friday at the Davao Convention & Trade Center before teachers and students of Center for Brighter Beginnings, the chief executive said, “Kita mo si Mabilog. Mabilog is, I think a cousin of Drilon. Wala na. The Ombudsman, in a very, very late gesture, para kunwari na sinuportahan nila ako, fired, stripped him of his mayorship.”

Government records show that the mayor declared a net worth of P59, 358,539.89 in 2012. This increased to P68,341,622.40 in 2013 “due to his new real property and investments,” according to Mabilog.

But the ombudsman said in the Aug. 29 ruling that even with his business investments, respondent “cannot satisfactorily explain” his purchase in cash of a 664-square-meter residential property, acquisition of new investments and increase in cash and cash equivalent, amounting to P8,983,082.52.

“No businessman can generate a net income of almost one-half of his equity investments, as in respondent’s case where his net worth amounted to 45 percent of his declared stock equities and investments,” it said.

Also, Mabilog’s supposed business interests in Mega Pacific Food Services Inc., Iloilo One Esplanade Realty, Iloilo Happy Haus Donuts, and Global Jami Motors Corporation reveals a “conflict of interest” in his duties as a local government official, according to the ombudsman.

The office said Mabilog’s business interests violated Section 4 of Republic Act 6713 or the norms of Conduct of public officials and employees while his interest in the Iloilo One Esplanade Realty “showed he had used his position to give his business unwarranted advantage over other businesses.”

The ombudsman’s ruling against Mabilog will result in the cancellation of the mayor’s civil service eligibility, forfeiture of his retirement benefits, and disqualification to again hold public office.

‘You’re next’

Last August, Duterte ordered a check on the lifestyle of Mabilog, a second cousin of Sen. Franklin Drilon.

Last Wednesday, Oct. 25, Duterte, in a speech in Malacañang before members of the ASEAN Law Association, told Mabilog that “you’re next.”

“The mayor of Iloilo City, I identified him. This was broadcasted. I said you are next, you’re next.”

In August 2016, the President said Iloilo City was among the country’s worst places because many of the local chief executives, police officers, and judges there were allegedly involved in illegal drug activities.

Duterte said that while he was campaigning last year, Iloilo residents already sought his help in addressing the city’s serious narcotics problem.

Lahat nga tao doon [Iloilo] sinasabi, ‘Mayor, ang droga. Kung maari tulungan mo kami dito’,” the chief executive said.

Mabilog is among the eight incumbent mayors in the Visayas who remain in the President’s list of personalities allegedly involved in narcotics trade.

The Iloilo mayor denied having links with narcotics traders, saying that he “can categorically say that I am not involved in the protection, trade, and use of illegal drugs.”

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