Bacolod mayor given 10 days to answer malversation rap
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental – The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas has found basis to proceed with a criminal investigation of Mayor Monico Puentevella for allegedly failing to account for P50.5 million that was entrusted to him, while he was a congressman and head of a sports committee, for Bacolod’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games in 2005.
The anti-graft office in Cebu City gave Puentevella 10 days to answer the complaint of malversation of public funds, failure of an accountable officer to render accounts, illegal use of public funds and violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The order was issued by acting Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Rodolfo Elman and was dated Sept. 12. A copy was released to the media in Bacolod on Thursday.
The Inquirer sent text messages to Puentevella asking for his reaction. However, he referred Inquirer to his lawyer, City Legal Officer Rayfrando Diaz, who said on Thursday he had not recived a copy of the Ombudsman’s order and could not be reached fo followup on Friday.
The complaint against Puentevella was filed on May 7 by Sammy Montoyo of the Save Bacolod Movement.
It stemmed from Puentevella’s alleged failure to account for P50.5 million given to him as chair of the Bacolod SEA Games Organizing Committee (BASOC) in November 2005. At that time, he was congressman of Bacolod’s lone district.
In his complaint-affidavit, Montoyo said four government checks amounting to P50.5 million were issued to Puentevella in 2005 as chairman of BASOC—P10.5 million from Land Bank of the Philippines issued on July 28, 2005; P20 million from LBP on Aug. 12, 2005; P10 million from Philippine National Bank on Aug. 26, 2005; and P10 million from LBP on Nov. 18, 2005.
The complaint said the checks should have been deposited in the BASOC’s account, or with any public depository account.
Puentevella, however, deposited the checks in his own private account — Account No. 1422-158630 at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.-Bacolod Shopping Branch.
The complaint said the Commission on Audit sent two demand letters to Puentevella in 2009, asking him to render an accounting of the SEA Games funds. But from 2009 until now, Puentevella has failed to render an accounting of the funds, it added.
The first letter was issued by state auditor Mario Lipana on Jan. 16, 2009 and was received by Puentevella’s office three days later. But the letter was apparently ignored, prompting COA to send another demand letter on Jan. 19, 2009.
The complaint said COA’s second letter contained its own findings on how Puentevella allegedly misappropriated and malversed the P50.5 million.
The COA letter said that based on their findings, Puentevella issued “his own personal voucher” to cover his unaccounted disbursements or unaccountable expenditures.
The funds under office facilities and beautification project amounting to P368,422.50 were diverted by Puentevella for the public cemetery, which is not allowed under the BASOC fund, the complaint said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.