Gov says evidence in plunder being destroyed
PILI, Camarines Sur—Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte on Tuesday called on the House ethics committee to hasten the formal inquiry on the alleged ill-gotten wealth of Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella, saying that roads cited in the plunder complaint against Fuentebella were being destroyed to remove evidence of fund misuse.
But Fuentebella said the claim that he sent people to destroy the roads, which were cited in the plunder complaint at the Ombudsman, was not true.
He said he would confront the case at the proper forum, the Ombudsman, and he was confident he would clear his name and that of his family.
“These charges are a mere concoction of facts and figment of LRay’s imagination and are deliberately intended to malign the good name of the family whose reputation remains unquestioned,” Fuentebella said.
Villafuerte filed on Sept. 17 at the Ombudsman a 15-page, P80-million plunder complaint against Fuentebella, who represents the fourth district of Camarines Sur; his wife Evelyn, mayor of Sangay, Camarines Sur; and sons Bryan Arnulf, mayor of Tigaon, Camarines Sur and Felix William, commissioner of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board.
Villafuerte alleged the respondents connived with each other “through a series of misappropriations, conversions, misuse and malversation of public funds” to have road built leading to the family’s private property and P25-million mansion.
The governor also said the Fuentebellas used public funds to build a private view deck reported as a lighthouse, a covered sports complex inside their property and an irrigation project in another property they owned.
Villafuerte claimed that Fuentebella could not have amassed the wealth he used to build his mansions and other structures since his declared net worth was only P29.6 million as shown in his recent sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth.
He put to task Fuentebella for not directly answering the plunder charges. “Instead of resorting to name-calling and other non-issues, I kindly advise Deputy Speaker Noli Fuentebella to simply answer the plunder charges filed against him,” Villafuerte said.
‘Acts of desperation’
Dismissing the plunder charge against him and his family, Fuentebella said “these are acts of desperation of a drowning man who is already isolated from his peers and will soon become powerless.”
But the governor said the charges he filed were not concocted or plucked out of thin air and are supported by hard evidence. “The road projects and structures built out of public funds in his private properties in Sagnay and Tigaon, Camarines Sur, are there for the public and investigators to see. Calling me names will not erase the fact that he personally benefited from these infrastructure projects,” he said.
He said that long before he and Fuentebella parted ways as a result of the move to divide the province, concerned constituents have been providing him with information and documents that they were able to validate and formed part of the evidence in the plunder charges that he filed.
Villafuerte also took exception to Fuentebella’s remark that the governor “acts as if he owns CamSur.”
“Look who’s talking. He used government funds as if they were his own, building roads and other infrastructure that benefited no one except him and his family,” said the governor.
Villafuerte and Fuentebella were one-time allies during the 2007 elections during which the governor’s father, third district Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte, fielded gubernatorial candidate Eduardo Pilapil against his son. Since then father and son Villafuerte have not reconciled.
Fuentebella, the author of House Bill 4820 that seeks to carve out Nueva Camarines (comprising 16 towns and Iriga City) from the 35-town, two-city Camarines Sur, is now allied with the governor’s father after decades of political animosity.
Together with Representatives Rolando Andaya Jr. (first district) and Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo (second district), Fuentebella and the elder Villafuerte comprised the prodivision leaders in Camarines Sur.
Camarines Sur has five district representatives, of which only fifth district Rep. Salvio Fortuno opposed the move to create Nueva Camarines, which is the combined fourth and fifth districts of Camarines Sur in the eastern seaboard of the province.
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