The Ombudsman has suspended Victorias City Mayor Severo Palanca and Permits and Licenses Division head Ramsy Panes for six months and one day without pay, after finding him guilty of dishonesty for issuing permits to a jai alai gaming station.
Another respondent, former Victorias City Sports Office head Gaudencio Corona, was exonerated by the Ombudsman for lack of evidence, a copy of the 22-page decision furnished the DAILY STAR yesterday by the complainant, James Francis Anthony Garcia, said.
The decision was approved by Ombudsman Conchita Morales-Carpio as recommended by Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol on November 21, who ordered that copies of the verdict be furnished to the regional offices of the Civil Service Commission.
Victorias City Vice Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca said the mayor was on travel leave, while Panes said he has not received a copy of the decision yet.
Garcia, a nephew of Mayor Palanca, claimed in his complaint that the city officials conspired and took advantage of their public positions and helped one another in falsifying a public document denominated as “Business Permit” on June 23, 2010.
The complainant added that the respondents made it appear in the permit that Corona is the owner and operator of Dalisay Amusement Games and Recreation Station at Gonzaga Street, Victorias City even if the entity does not exist.
In his reply to the complaint, Panes stressed that sometime in the third week of June, 2010, Corona approached and informed him that he wanted to process a business permit for a jai alai betting station.
Panes also said that he instructed Corona that while he had been issued a business permit, he cannot start operating jai alai in Victorias City until he can install a betting machine in a betting station, and since Corona was not able to install any, he failed to begin a jai alai business in any part of the city.
Respondents further countered that the persons arrested by the police in connection with illegal jai alai betting were not members of the proposed betting station of Corona since his business was not operating as of July 14, 2010.
Panes stressed that he had no control whatsoever over the activities of these persons and was in fact never informed of their activities before their arrest by the police
Corona, on his part, said that he was no longer connected with the Victorias City government when he applied for the permit and he denied falsifying any documents.
The Ombudsman stated that the evidence substantially shows that respondents, Palanca and Panes, are guilty of dishonesty in issuing a business permit showing that Corona was the operator/owner of Dalisay Amusement Games and Recreation Station and showing that Corona had authority/license to engage in jai alai betting station, when such determinations are not supported by the documents supporting his application for a business permit.
As to Corona, the ombudsman stated that he has not shown clear entitlement to the issuance of Business Permit in his name for the conduct of bet taking for an illegal numbers game.*APN