Ombudsman indicts ex-Cebu town mayor
CEBU CITY—The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas has indicted the former mayor of Sibonga town, southern Cebu province, for graft for allegedly listing himself as recipient of fees meant only for municipal health workers.
Lionel Bacaltos, former mayor of Sibonga, had been indicted for “causing undue injury to the government,” according to the Ombudsman.
In a resolution, Rheia Tibon, graft investigator and prosecution officer, said Bacaltos acted in bad faith by getting honoraria for health workers.
A health worker, Mary Joejie Chan, filed the complaint against Bacaltos before the Ombudsman in October 2015, accusing the former mayor of using his influence to be included on a list of recipients of fees or honoraria from PhilHealth funds.
PhilHealth had sponsored a health care program and gave funds to the town.
In a letter on May 28, 2012, William Galvez, PhilHealth regional vice president, told Bacaltos, then mayor, that 20 percent of the funds released to the town should be set aside for honoraria of health workers.
In February 2015, Bacaltos submitted a request for the funds, representing 20 percent of what PhilHealth gave, for honoraria for the town’s health workers amounting to P280,197.
Attached to the request was a list of recipients, which included Bacaltos.
Tibon said the list showed that Bacaltos collected a total of P17,512 in fees even if he was not qualified to receive the funds.
In a counteraffidavit, Bacaltos said he did nothing unlawful when he collected the funds.
PhilHealth, he said, did not categorically prohibit the mayor from collecting honorarium meant for health workers.