Voucher shows solon’s ‘payoff’

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BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya —Copies of an alleged voucher that supposedly showed that Representative Carlos Padilla was receiving perks from a foreign mining company were circulated here on Tuesday, raising suspicion that his reelection campaign is being bankrolled by the firm.

A photocopy of a voucher showed Padilla supposedly received P4 million in “representation allowance” from OceanaGold Philippines Inc., which owns and operates the $220-million gold-copper project in Didipio village in Kasibu town.

The voucher, dated May 5, 2012, was allegedly received by Board Member Efren Quiben, one of Padilla’s closest political allies.

Sought for comment, Padilla said he has yet to see a copy of the voucher.

“Perhaps, Board Member Quiben can ably defend himself. But give me a copy [of the voucher and] if verified [to be] authentic, I will initiate [the] cancellation of OceanaGold’s FTAA,” he said in a text message.

FTAA, or financial and technical assistance agreement, is jargon for a mining permit.

The Inquirer tried to reach Quiben for comment but he would not take calls on his mobile phone. OceanaGold officials declined to comment on the issue as well.

Padilla is seeking a third term as representative against outgoing Gov. Luisa Cuaresma of the United Nationalist Alliance and Lawrence Sta. Ana, an independent candidate.

The alleged voucher, bearing the OceanaGold logo, bore the account code of “Admin. PR945-SD-NV” and showed that the amount was received by Quiben on behalf of Padilla on May 21, 2012.

Section 3 of the antigraft and corrupt practices act prohibits any public officer from “directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the government and any other part, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law.”

Asked how he would address the issue should the document be found to be authentic, Padilla said: “This is why I want first a verification.”

“Otherwise, it’s plain political propaganda to discredit a candidate,” he said, referring to Quiben, who is seeking reelection.

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