Probe of storm aid for Cebu City execs ongoing
CEBU CITY—Cebu City officials, led by Mayor Michael Rama, face suspension if it is proven that they took P20,000 each in calamity funds meant for victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” even if they were not affected by the storm.
Rama had admitted that he used his share of the fund to pay for electric bills in his home.
The case is now being investigated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Lawyer Christopher Tiu, hearing officer of the DILG legal and legislative liaison service, is here to start investigating the complaint filed by lawyer Reymelio Delute.
Delute questioned the acceptance by city officials of P20,000 each in calamity funds in December 2013, even if they were not victims of Yolanda.
Rama, Vice Mayor Edgar Labella and 12 city councilors are facing investigation. Tiu has set a three-day hearing from Oct. 14 to 16.
“There is still a ray of hope because they have given due cause to my complaint,” said Delute, the complainant.
“They did not dismiss it outright. Instead, they gave it weight and went on with the investigation,” he added.
At the initial hearing on Tuesday, Rama stayed for about 10 minutes before leaving for a trip to Hong Kong.
Lawyer Jerone Castillo, head of the city legal office, questioned the jurisdiction of the Office of the President and the DILG over the case.
Lawyer Benjamin Militar, one of Delute’s lawyers, questioned the use by Rama of city government lawyers to defend him in the case.
According to Militar, contrary to the position of Castillo, the case fell within the jurisdiction of the Office of the President and the DILG because it involved the misconduct of local government officials.
The complaint, he said, was not about the validity of City Ordinance No. 2379, which authorized the disbursement of P84.5 million in calamity funds supposedly for victims of Yolanda.
The funds were released in December 2013 to at least 4,200 city officials and employees, including the mayor, Rama.
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