The Office of the Ombudsman has found Mabini, Bohol ex-Mayor Esther Fostanes-Tabigue guilty of Grave Misconduct for allowing four illegal tupadas in 2013 and 2014, exacerbated by her whimsical refusal to renew the license of an existing cockpit owner/operator.
In a 15-page Decision, Ombudsman Morales imposed on Tabigue the penalty of dismissal from the service with forfeiture of all her retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from holding public office. However, in view of her separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to her one-year salary.
In the related criminal complaint, Tabigue also faces indictment before the Sandiganbayan for four counts of violation of The Cockfighting Law of 1974 (Presidential Decree 449), and violation of Section 3(j) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Danilo Du, the town’s cockpit franchisee since 2009. Tabigue was alleged to have arbitrarily refused to renew Du’s license to operate a cockpit in 2014 despite substantial compliance with the requirements. Respondent also allowed the conduct of illegal tupadas in violation of P.D. 449 which requires that cockfighting events for charitable purposes must support a national, not merely local, fund raising campaign approved by the President to be held in a licensed cockpit, park or playground.
In its Resolution, the Ombudsman stated that, “it is the law, an ordinance or some well-defined officially written regulation that should define the detailed requirements for the issuance of a license to operate a cockpit and not the respondent. As far as PD 449, PD 1602, PD 1608 and Municipal Ordinance No. 3, Series of 2006 are concerned, complainant had already complied with the basic requirements and respondent is already bereft of any reason to deny it. This is especially so when, at that time, the municipality had been illegally granting permits to conduct cockfighting events during town fiestas in places other than a licensed cockpit.”