Eastern Samar town mayor slams Ombudsman order to suspend him
TACLOBAN CITY — Political harassment.
This was how Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales of Guiuan town, Eastern Samar, described the order of the Ombudsman to suspend him for the alleged irregularities in the repair of public facilities damaged due to Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
“It’s pure harassment and politically motivated. This issue always came out every election. But it’s not true because the local government of Guiuan has no disallowances from the Commission on Audit,” Gonzales said.
He said the issue first came out when he was first running for a third term in the 2016 elections.
Now, it came out again when he was running for congressman in the province’s lone district.
Gonzales claimed that the complaint against him was fabricated and he already submitted the lacking documents at the Ombudsman.
“There were no findings by the Ombudsman that there was overprice but just lack of documents which we already provided,” Gonzales said.
In an order dated Feb. 12, Ombudsman Samuel Martires ordered the six-month preventive suspension of Gonzales for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.
The suspension stemmed from a complaint filed by Kiriath Jearn Andrie Tumanda and Avelino Balagbis Jr., both residents of Guiuan, who alleged that the Recovery Assistance on Yolanda, a fund downloaded to towns and cities hit by Yolanda from the Department of Interior and Local Government, was misused.
The town received P43 million intended for the repair of its municipal building and P13 million for its public market.
It also received P152.99 million to repair its 89 barangay halls.
But the Ombudsman said its Field Investigation Bureau found no proof contractors, Pedro S. Labasbas Construction and EDG Americas Inc., submitted documents stating their technical, legal and financial competence to undertake the projects.
The Ombudsman said EDG Americas Inc., which bagged the contract for the repair of the public market and the barangay facilities, also deviated from the approved plans stated in the program of works, such as discrepancies in the construction materials used and the number of floors built.
Also suspended by the Ombudsman were municipal accountant Adrian Bernardo; municipal treasurer Felicisima Bernardo; bids and awards committee members Arsenio Salamida, Esperanza Cortin, Danilo Colandog, Gilberto Labicante, Ma. Nenita Ecleo, and Felipe Padual; and Zosimo Macabasag, BAC technical working group member.
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