Osmeña faces charges for stripping Cebu City mayor’s office bare

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 8) — Former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is facing multiple criminal and administrative complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman for stripping the city mayor’s office bare before ending his term.

Mejelito Cajes, head of the Cebu City Hall Building Maintenance Services, accused Osmeña of theft, malicious mischief, violation of the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials for accepting gifts, grave misconduct, grave neglect of duty, conduct unbecoming of a public official, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.

Cajes was assisted by the City Legal Office, which was asked by Mayor Edgar Labella to file a case against Osmeña.

Along with Osmeña, his aides, an architect of the City Planning Office, heads of a private security firm, security officers, and the contractor of Dakay Construction and 32 of its workers were tagged in the 17-page complaint filed Monday. Cajes said Osmeña’s co-accused conspired with the former mayor.

"Respondent Tomas Osmena is the mastermind after having readily admitted before the press that he ordered Pericles Dakay owner and president of Dakay Construction and his staff at the Office of the Mayor to take out his personal property or everything he paid for when he renovated the Office of the Mayor after the Sangguniang Panlungsod denied his request to renovate the eighth floor back in 2016," Cajes said.

He added that Osmeña acted in bad faith, “clearly motivated by his infantile personal grudge against ... Labella.”

Osmeña’s camp had said the former Cebu City mayor took down all appliances and fixtures from the mayor’s office as he used his own money to renovate the space. It said the city council dominated by opposition politicians denied funding for renovation.

Cajes said Osmeña does not have the authority to remove “government properties” from the mayor’s office as furniture, fixtures, equipment, supplies and other objects that had been installed there had been passed on to the government.

Properties stored at the Office of the Mayor are presumed government owned unless proven otherwise. Properties that are already attached to the building could no longer be removed even with proof of ownership under the law.

The complaint also cited Republic Act 386 which provides that a public officer who introduces improvements to their office out of their private funds lose what they built without right to compensation.

It also questioned Osmeña’s acceptance of "prohibited gift" of ₱1 million in violation of the anti-graft law for the renovation of the mayor’s office.