Ombud asked to probe plaint on Tuburan mayor’s fund use
A councilor of Tuburan town has asked the Visayas Ombudsman to look into alleged irregularities in the acquisition of food and supplies which supposedly benefitted close relatives of Mayor Democrito Diamante.
In her complaint, Councilor Marie Tabotabo said there was no bidding for the contract to provide food for doctors of a medical mission held from Feb. 4 to 8.
Mayor Diamante said the complaint was “politically motivated” and added that he is willing to answer the allegations against him.
“I will answer that in due time. That’s just a fishing expedition,” he said.
Tabotabo is running for reelection under the One Cebu party of the Garcias while Diamante is running for reelection under the Liberal Party.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Commission on Audit (COA) Regional Director Sabiano Cabatuan were given copies of the complaint.
“The meals were served at P300 per head. I believe we are only allowed (to serve food at) P80 per head, otherwise, a bidding should be done,” Tabotabo said in her complaint.
The meals for the medical mission were provided by Silver Plate Restaurant, said to be owned by the mayor’s brother, Ruben.
Tabotabo said the restaurant occupies a municipal property despite the absence of authority from the municipal council.
“They have not paid rent for the whole of 2011 and in 2012,” Tabotabo said.
She said the food caterer also managed to secure a Build-Operate-Transfer contract with the municipal government without passing through the town council.
She said AJB Auto Repair Shop, owned by the mayor’s sister, Teresa Balbedo and his brother-in-law, also services all municipality-owned vehicles and supplies them with spare parts.
“The owners purchase needed supplies from the city and overprice them,” Tabotabo’s complaint said.
She also sought an inventory of all municipal vehicles amid reports that vehicles brought to the AJB auto shop are left there for months.
Tabotabo said she requested for details of the municipal government expenditures to validate expenditures authorized by Mayor Diamante.
But municipal accountant Laarni Pasaylo instead gave her an executive summary of expenses amounting to P43.8 million.
Tabotabo cited the acquisition of a P6.2 million bulldozer in 2010.
“We found out this was a surplus bulldozer and after a week, it broke down and never was (it) able to function again,” the complaint said.
Tabotabo also questioned the allocation of P9.89 million for their water resource development and the P1.5 million appropriation for medicine purchase among others.
Despite the water resource development project implementation the town “faced a typhoid outbreak due to inadequate chlorination,” the councilor said.
Tabotabo’s complaint also mentioned that the town’s medicines were placed under the mayor’s office “to give him power to choose whom they will give the medicines.”
“In 2012, total amount appropriated for purchase of medicines reached P1.5 million and yet medicines are unavailable to poor patients in health centers. Some would (even) come from far-off mountain barangays only to be given P50 or paracetamol,” said the complaint.
Even the appropriation for Aid to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) is given to preferred supporters, she said.
“Non-supporters are told to go home because there is no more budget or is given a small amount,” Tabotabo’s complaint read.
But Mayor Diamante said there is “zero corruption in Tuburan town.”
“We received a seal of good housekeeping from the national government. That complaint is politicaly motivated,” he said.
Diamante also denied Tabotabo’s allegation that appropriation for aid is given to the preferred supporters.
“You can interview the people in Tuburan if you want. Tabotabo is so desperate even her own siblings don’t trust her. You can interview her own relatives,” he added. With Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus