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Polls a season for cases, too

GENERAL SANTOS CITY—Election time is apparently the same season for the filing or revival of corruption charges against politicians.

In Sarangani province for example, reelectionist Eugene Alzate, an ally of Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, suddenly found himself fending off claims he was disqualified to run because he lost an appeal to an Ombudsman conviction in 2004.

The Court of Appeals (CA) in Cagayan de Oro City ruled in favor of the Ombudsman decision that found Alzate guilty of misuse of P41 million in public funds for ghost cooperatives in Sarangani.

The Ombudsman said Alzate is disqualified from holding office or seeking election for life.

Alzate and Pacquiao’s opponents said the CA decision is clear when it said that “Alzate cannot anymore question the Ombudsman decision against him since it is already final and executory.”

The Ombudsman, based on the CA decision on Alzate’s appeal, asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government to serve the order on Alzate in April.

Adding to Alzate’s woes is the August decision of Sandiganbayan that found him guilty in the criminal aspect of the case.

“I am not a lawyer but I’m wondering why he was convicted when he has not signed any document linked to the fund scam,” Pacquiao said.

In Lingig, Surigao del Sur, Sandiganbayan’s suspension of Vice Mayor Roberto Luna is among the issues the mayoralty candidate faces.

Luna, the town’s council secretary, was ordered suspended for 90 days along with several other officials for malversation of public funds and falsification of public documents in a case involving alleged ghost employees.

In Surigao del Norte, Rep. Francisco Matugas is also facing plunder charges for allegedly misusing his pork barrel by releasing funds to 15 town executives shortly before the 2010 elections.

Matugas, who chairs the Liberal Party in the first district, said claims that he illegally allocated P63.5 million for intelligence funds are tainted by politics.

Matugas said he never handled the funds. “So where’s the plunder there?” he said.

In Agusan del Sur, even siblings are capitalizing on graft charges filed against each other to push their candidacy or that of their allies forward.

Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza said his siblings, Gov. Adolph Edward Plaza, Representatives Maria Valentina Plaza and Evelyn Plaza-Mellana of the first and second districts, had enriched themselves using government funds.

Adolph Edward and Maria Valentina have kept mum over Rodolfo’s tirades although radio block timers hired by their political camps said Rodolfo also has unliquidated cash advances of P4.3 million.

In Kidapawan City, Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco got the surprise of his life when the Ombudsman Mindanao ordered him to answer a complaint about the presence of a city government vehicle in front of a mall there on Feb. 3, a Sunday.

In Lamitan, Basilan, reelectionist Mayor Roderick Furigay said he has filed criminal and administrative charges at the Ombudsman against his challenger and Vice Mayor Arleigh Eisma for violation of the antigraft law. Aquiles Zonio, Dennis Santos, Danni Adorador, Chris Panganiban, Carlo Agamon and Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

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Tags: Elections , Elections 2013 , Graft and Corruption , Politics

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