Southern Leyte Governor Damian Mercado.
Southern Leyte Governor Damian Mercado.

TACLOBAN CITY, Aug. 11– The camp of Southern Leyte Governor Damian G. Mercado will file a motion for reconsideration after the Office of the Ombudsman ruled on Thursday to dismiss the him from service.

Mercado in a brief mobile phone interview with PNA Friday morning said he has yet to receive his copy from the Ombudsman Office. “I have not received any copy of the said resolution,” Mercado said. The news of his dismissal came at a time that Maasin celebrated its 17th year of its cityhood.

He said his lawyers are studying the case and will file a motion for reconsideration.

The order of the anti-graft court approved by Conchita Carpio-Morales was for selling his old vehicle to the city government. Mercado was charged for graft and faces the prospect of being dismissed from service and perpetual disqualification to hold any public positions.

The Office of the Ombudsman, on its resolution issued on Thursday, directed for the dismissal of the governor from service as he allegedly committed grave misconduct and faces charges for graft and violation of the Government Reform Procurement Act before the Sandiganbayan.

Mercado, 63, started his political career as a chairman of Barangay Abgao in 1987, one of the most populous villages in Maasin City 1987. Then he became the mayor of Maasin when it was still a municipality, from 1998 until 2000 and as city mayor from 2000 to 2007.

He was elected as governor in 2007 until 2013. Then became the congressman of the lone district of Southern Leyte from 2013-2016. He ran for the said post and won as governor in the 2016 elections.

The case involving the governor took place in 2007 when, as mayor of Maasin, he directed for the purchase of three reconditioned vehicles intended for the use of the city government for PHP2.3 million.

But based on the investigation conducted by the anti-graft court, it was discovered that one of the vehicles procured, a Toyota Grandia, was owned by the former mayor.

Also purchased were a Mitsubishi Pajero and an Isuzu Wizard which were awarded to Kojac Auto Repair Shop.

Charged alongside Mercado were Bids and Awards committee (BAC) chairman Crispin Arong, Jr., BAC vice-chairperson Feorillo Demeterio, Jr.; BAC members Anecito Narit, Benjase Lumen and Consuelo Ladrera; and supplier Baltazar Avila, Sr. of Kojac Auto Repair Shop and Auto Supply.

Mercado’s co-accused were also found guilty of grave misconduct and ordered dismissed from the service.

The dismissal order carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits, cancellation of eligibility and being barred from taking the civil service examinations.

Mercado has another pending case with the Office of the Ombudsman for falsification of public documents. He is set to face trial before the Sandiganbayan after the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge him with Falsification of Public Documents under Article 171 (4) of the revised Penal Code. His lawyers filed Motion for Reconsideration in this case last May 2017. (Vicky Arnaiz/PNA)