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Ombudsman: No probe yet of Sorsogon projects

By: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 05:16 AM January 12, 2019

Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Friday denied his office had found “red flags of corruption” in several flood-control projects in Sorsogon province contrary to reports quoting House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.

“Truth of the matter is we have not seen any red flag even from the horizon because we have not been sufficiently educated as to the subject matter,” Martires said in a statement.

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“We have yet to fully investigate the matter,” he said.

In a press statement on Wednesday, Andaya claimed the Ombudsman had already launched an investigation into the alleged flood-control fund scam as the antigraft body supposedly “noticed red flags of corruption” on evidence and testimony given during a hearing at the House of Representatives.

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Martires clarified that while it was true that he ordered one of his staff members to obtain from the House committee on rules a copy of Andaya’s speech and materials that the lawmaker used for his slide presentation during the hearing, it does not mean that his office was already conducting an investigation.

“It is therefore inaccurate to say that ‘the Office of the Ombudsman has noticed red flags of corruption on the evidence presented and on the testimonies made during the [House] hearing,’” Martires said.

Martires also debunked Andaya’s claim that it was the Ombudsman who requested for copies of testimonial and documentary evidence that the House generated during its hearings.

Mr. Baquiran

It was a House staff member, a certain “Mr. Baquiran,” who volunteered to furnish the Ombudsman investigators with copies of evidence, Martires said.

He confirmed, however, that Ombudsman investigators called up the House secretariat to request for copies of Andaya’s speech and the materials he used in his slide presentation.

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“We have not yet conducted any investigation with respect to the subject matter,” Martires said.

“As of the moment, we are only in the process of gathering documents,” he said.

“It is not good to drag the Office of the Ombudsman into this feud between the office of the secretary of budget and management and the House of Representatives,” he said.

Andaya’s yarn

Andaya had claimed that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), through Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, had inserted P385 million in funds in the proposed 2019 national budget for flood-control projects in the town of Casiguran in Sorsogon.

Diokno had refuted Andaya, saying there was no insertion by the DBM but fund requests made by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar had confirmed Diokno’s statement.

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TAGS: Andaya, Local news, Ombudsman, Philippine news update, Sorsogon
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