Negros gov faces malversation, graft for use of calamity funds
Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo was indicted for malversation, through falsification and graft, for the anomalous disbursement of P143.2 million in calamity funds.
In a statement on Tuesday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said she found probable cause to indict Degamo with 11 counts of malversation through falsification and one count of graft or violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Also charged were provincial treasurer Danilo Mendez and provincial accountant Teodorico Reyes.
The charges stemmed from the anomalous use of the calamity funds intended for the repair, rehabilitation and construction of structures damaged by Typhoon “Sendong” in 2011 and the 6.9-magnitude earthquake in 2012.
According to the Ombudsman, Degamo requested the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for a special allotment release order (Saro) of P961.5 million, of which at least P480.7 million was released to the provincial capitol.
The DBM days later withdrew the Saro because the provincial government failed to comply with existing guidelines for the infrastructure projects.
However, Degamo proceeded with the awarding of the infrastructure contracts worth P143.2 million representing 15 percent advance payment to the contractors.
The Commission on Audit would later issue 11 notices of disallowance because the funds were certified available despite the withdrawal of the Saro.
Morales said “their unilateral act of ignoring DBM’s authority is indicative of bad faith, manifest partiality and/or gross inexcusable negligence which caused undue injury to the government.”
Under Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, graft is a criminal offense of causing any undue injury to any party, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.
The Revised Penal Code defines malversation as an act by a public officer accountable over the funds of misappropriating through abandonment or negligence public funds or property.
The Ombudsman also ordered the dismissal, cancelation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from government service of Degamo and the two other provincial officials. RAM/rga