INCUMBENT Danao City Mayor Ramonito Durano III, second cousin of President Duterte, is now off the hook after the Sandiganbayan allowed the withdrawal of the case against him over alleged discriminatory treatment of city government employees.
In a five-page resolution issued August 27, the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division granted the prosecution’s motion for leave to withdraw information which cited the absence of any ground to pursue the case.
The Office of the Ombudsman had earlier found probable cause to charge Durano with violation of Section 67, Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987 for defying a lawful order of the Civil Service Commission.
The CSC ruling dated August 14, 2014 ordered Durano to reinstate seven local government employees whose appointments he recalled in July 2013 for alleged failure to undergo a screening process.
Associate Justice Mari Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega penned the ruling with Associate Justices Rafael R. Lagos and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac concurring.
In evaluating the case, the Commission said the employees were unlawfully stripped of their positions and deserved to be reinstated. They were also entitled to payment of back wages, leave credits and other benefits.
Prosecutors, however, said a second look into the details showed that Durano “merely exhausted all legal remedies available to him” before eventually implementing the CSC Decision.
By its own admission, the prosecution said the accused has “fully complied” with the CSC directive before the case was filed with the Sandiganbayan on January 12, 2018.
The prosecution’s move was also backed by a separate manifestation from private complainants Cecilia Lawas, Amabella Gomez, Celso Manulat, Leo Enriquez, Orlando Dagatan, Conchita Batuto, and Maria Sofielyn Camance, who jointly declared that the civil aspect of their case against Durano has been fully satisfied hence they have no further claims against him.
In addition, the group said it is not posing any opposition to the prosecution’s motion to withdraw the criminal charge.
“After a review of the records, it appears that the prosecution’s evidence is not sufficient to uphold a conviction for the crime charged. Considering that this case is still at the pre-trial stage, a withdrawal of the information would not harm public interest especially because of the apparent dearth of evidence,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Associate Justice Mari Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega penned the ruling with Associate
Justices Rafael R. Lagos and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac concurring.