Mayor’s name on coffins not yet a dead issue | Inquirer News

Mayor’s name on coffins not yet a dead issue

/ 04:15 AM June 19, 2015


CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—A mayor in Tarlac province is facing graft charges in the Office of the Ombudsman for giving away coffins marked with his name and for undertaking projects awarded to contractors of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), documents showed.

The cases were filed against Capas Mayor Antonio Rodriguez by former Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan in the Office of the Ombudsman on June 10 and 11.


Catacutan sought Rodriguez’s preventive suspension for violations of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).


Rodriguez called the complaints “fabricated.” He declined to give further comments but challenged Catacutan to present evidence.

Misuse of public funds

In his complaint, Catacutan said the distribution of coffins spray-painted with Rodriguez’s name “is a blatant misuse of public funds that the taxpayers of the municipality of Capas are religiously paying but were not used for the expected development of [the town].”

In an earlier interview, Rodriguez said his staff resorted to this scheme to prevent funeral parlors from collecting fees twice, from the local government and from the bereaved families.

He said the scheme was stopped when funeral parlors stopped charging the recipients.

Rodriguez said all the expenses—for coffin and for funeral services, including the procession to the cemetery—amounted to only P8,000. But Catacutan said the families of the deceased still had to pay “participatory funeral expenses” of P7,000 each.


Catacutan disputed Rodriguez’s claim that the painting of the incumbent mayor’s name on coffins was stopped more than three years ago. He said the photograph of a coffin bearing Rodriguez’s name, which circulated via social media and riled netizens recently, was taken in May this year. The story appeared on Page A1 of the Inquirer on May 27.

Dummies used

In the second complaint, Catacutan said the three DPWH contractors acted as “dummies” because the “actual project undertaking is being done by [Rodriguez]” through the overall supervision of an engineer employed by the Capas government.

He said employees, trucks and fuel of the local government were used in the projects while materials were supplied by a store supposedly owned by Rodriguez.

The projects, which entailed the construction of multipurpose buildings in six villages of Capas and Bamban towns, were funded by the office of Tarlac Rep. Noel Villanueva, he said.

The DPWH district office based in Concepcion town has not replied to the Inquirer’s request for comment coursed through its office in Central Luzon.


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