Plunder case vs ex-Governor Matugas ‘false, malicious’ – lawmaker son
MANILA, Philippines — The plunder case filed against former Surigao del Norte Gov. Francisco “Lalo” Matugas is “false and malicious,” his son, Siargao Rep. Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas said in a statement on Wednesday.
The elder Matugas has already responded to the plunder complaint filed by Oscar Pospia Jr. over the alleged misuse of the province’s disaster funds worth at least ₱50 million.
“The past decades have seen our political rival spew all sorts of lies and fake news to destroy the good name of my father — former Governor Lalo Matugas — with the objective of tarnishing the tangible outstanding legacies that marked his long and dedicated public service,” his son said.
Pospia is the chief-of-staff of Matugas’ long-time political opponent, incumbent Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Lyndon Barbers, whose camp — as described by the Bingo Matugas — was the motivation behind the “bad faith attempt” to tarnish their family name.
The Barbers subordinate accused the former governor of plunder, technical malversation, graft, and violating the procurement act. Pospia filed the complaint on Tuesday, June 6, before the Office of the Ombudsman.
“To be clear: Yesterday’s allegations against Papa are absurd and obviously politically motivated,” Bingo Matugas said.
“We have documents from three national government agencies to prove that the purchase of the books was aboveboard and followed the law. They know this. The camp of Barbers, however, is acting in bad faith to attempt to hurt us and is dismissing the fact that our students needed those books.”
Other former Surigao del Norte officials were also named as co-respondents in the case — including provincial accountant Myrla Padayhag, schools division superintendent Teresa Real, and members of the Bids and Awards Committee of the Department of Education Surigao del Norte Division.
Bingo Matugas said the case was meant to conceal the many deficiencies of Barbers’ governance in Surigao province.
“If only Barbers and his yes-men spent their apparent overabundance of free time channeling their insecurities, inadequacies, and collective laziness towards creating healthy, productive, and efficient programs for the people of our province,” he said. “This is, after all, the job of a Governor and what the people of Surigao del Norte deserve.”
Matugas then proceeded to address Barbers directly and said that they were planning to file a countersuit for defamation:
“To Governor Barbers: I suggest you tell your staff to remember that our fellow Surigaonons are your real bosses here. Tell them to remember that their time is paid for by Surigaonon taxpayer money. Because in the one year you’ve held office, your administration has done nothing substantial to change their lives for the better.
“I am the duly elected Congressman of District 1, yet in many instances, my office has had to carry the load for the good people of District 2 (yours and your brother’s jurisdiction) because of your repeated failure to respond to their needs.
“Lastly, Lalo Matugas, my Papa, has always been a man of unwavering dignity. We will not allow his good name to be tarnished by the ambition and greed of others. Our lawyers are now looking to file a countersuit for defamation to bring justice and light to this malevolent situation.
“In the meantime, I will go back to work, and work harder — as I must — because the good people of District 2 cannot rely on you in the way that the good people of District 1 and all Siargaonons have always been able to rely on the Matugas family.”