Mayor faces graft raps in calamity fund misuseBy Gabriel Cardinoza
Inquirer Northern Luzon
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—A resident here has filed criminal and administrative complaints against Mayor Benjamin Lim for supposedly ordering the release of the city’s calamity fund to buy relief goods despite the absence of a declaration of a state of calamity from the city council in 2010.
In an affidavit submitted to the Ombudsman on Aug. 31, Leo Angeles accused Lim of illegally releasing some P8.4 million, in five separate disbursement vouchers, from the city’s calamity fund on Oct. 22, 2010, to buy relief goods.
“The release of the fund by Mayor Lim was unauthorized, hence, illegal, because it was not sanctioned by a declaration of a state of calamity by the Sangguniang Panlungsod,” Angeles said.
Charged with Lim was city administrator Vladimir Mata.
Angeles said the purchase of relief goods was “highly irregular” because it did not comply with legal requirements and procedures for the disbursement of government funds.
This is Angeles’ second complaint against Lim in the last two months.
On July 23, Angeles filed a graft case against Lim for the alleged overpriced purchase of a 35-hectare property in a hilly village in San Jacinto, Pangasinan, in 2002, when Lim was in his first term as mayor.
The land was supposed to be used as the city’s sanitary landfill in compliance with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (Republic Act No. 9003) and to solve the city’s worsening garbage problem.
“The contract of sale entered in behalf of the City of Dagupan by [Lim], a public officer and then the city mayor, is manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the city government,” Angeles said.
Reached by the Inquirer yesterday, Lim declined to comment on the cases, saying he has yet to receive a copy of any of the complaints.
But in an earlier media forum, Lim said he asked his staff to check Angeles’ background when he learned that he was the complainant. Angeles had claimed in his sworn statements that he is a registered voter and a taxpayer of Dagupan.
“After a thorough checking, Mr. Angeles’ personal claims turned out to be all negative,” Lim said.
A certification issued by Commission on Elections city registrar Remarque Ravanzo said Angeles is not a registered voter in any of the 31 barangays of the city.
The city assessor’s office and the city government’s one-stop business center also certified that Angeles was not a taxpayer of Dagupan because he had no real property or businesses registered in the city.