Mayor accused of getting kickbacks cries politics
A graft complaint has been filed against Sto. Tomas, Batangas, Mayor Edna Sanchez for allegedly demanding kickbacks from an information technology contractor in a case that the mayor decried as “purely political harassment” because the allegations were nine years old already.
The 11-page complaint for graft was filed by WeDo BPO Inc., an information technology company that won the contract to upgrade the municipality’s waterworks billing and collection system.
The complaint alleged that Sanchez demanded that WeDo turn over to her all checks received as payment for the project as she was the one who “facilitated” its approval.
Gerry Laresma, spokesperson of the mayor, said in a phone interview that the timing of the case was suspect and “malicious as they claim it happened in 2010.”
“Why file it just now?” Laresma said.
The complaint alleged that on Sept. 1, 2010, Sanchez sent her police bodyguard to WeDo to receive a Bank of the Philippine Islands check for P1,211,592.82 and P1 million in cash. The bodyguard allegedly presented an authorization letter from Sanchez along with her postal ID.
A photocopy of the check allegedly converted into cash by Sanchez was attached to the complaint.
She allegedly instructed the WeDo general manager to release money in tranches and treat this as “SOP” (standard operating procedure) payments and that her bodyguard will get the cash on her behalf.
Minus payables due WeDo and service fees of people involved in the project, the company said in its complaint that it advised Sanchez it can release a check in the net amount of P1,211,592.82.
Sanchez allegedly agreed but called WeDo again to demand P1 million in cash as payment to Dextral Lending Corp., a lending firm owned by the late Gov. Armand Sanchez, the mayor’s husband, from where WeDo was allegedly advised to secure a loan to use on the project.
In September 2010, two municipal officials allegedly called up WeDo asking for money to be released to them allegedly upon instructions by Sanchez. When WeDo contacted Sanchez to check, she allegedly confirmed the demand.
Attached to the complaint were receipts for cash and checks deposited to municipal treasurer Dorothy Malasique (P30,000 in cash) and then municipal accountant Maria Cecilia Principio (P200,000 in cash).
But Laresma said some of the checks were named to the municipal government, putting into question the allegation that the mayor received kickbacks.
“If they were named to the municipal government, how could they be for the mayor’s personal gain?” Laresma said.
Sanchez’s camp said it would answer the charges in detail “in the proper forum” and after receiving a copy of the complaint.
Sanchez is running for her third term as mayor. —MARICAR CINCO
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