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Negros Oriental Gov indicted for graft over calamity funds mess

/ 01:09 PM January 06, 2017

Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo faces 11 counts of graft for the alleged illegal disbursement of P480 million in calamity funds for infrastructure projects in the province.

In a statement on Friday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said she found probable cause to charge Degamo with 11 counts for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for the illegal disbursement of calamity funds to repair structures damaged by natural calamities.

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The Ombudsman’s preliminary investigation showed that Degamo requested financial assistance for the rehabilitation of structures damaged by Typhoon Sendong in December 2011, and the 6.9-magnitude earthquake in February 2012.

READ: Ombudsman orders Negros Oriental gov dismissed

The Department of Budget and Management in June 5, 2012 issued the special allotment release order (SARO) for P961.5 million, of which P480.7 million was released to the provincial government.

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But after two weeks, the budget department withdrew the SARO due to the failure of the provincial government to comply with the guidelines for infrastructure projects, which meant that the projects were no longer supported with appropriation and allotment.

But Degamo proceeded to award the 11 infrastructure contracts worth P143.2 million, representing the 15-percent advance payment to the contractors.

The Commission on Audit later issued 11 Notices of Disallowance on the projects, noting that the funds were certified available despite the negative SAROs.

Degamo has not filed a counter-affidavit to refute the charges.

Morales in her resolution said the “respondents unilaterally ignored the Department of Budget and Management directive and continued to award 11 infrastructure projects.”

“If respondents had reservations on the legality of the withdrawal of the positive SARO, they could have asked a higher executive authority or secured a judicial directive allowing them to retain control of the funds released to the province. This, respondents failed to do,” Morales said.

According to Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, public officials are prohibited from 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.

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The Ombudsman also indicted the following officials – Provincial Treasurer Danilo Mendez, Provincial Accountant Teodorico Reyes and Provincial Engineer Franco Alpuerto.

Mendez and Reyes were also indicted for 11 counts of falsification of public documents.

The Ombudsman also ordered the indictment of the following private respondents – Alejandro Lim, Jr. of Lim General Contractor Corporation, Mark Anthony Clemente of CTC Builders and Supplies, Inc. Danny Chan of AJAN Jeada, Inc., Wilfredo Chu of Bigfoot Construction and Supply, Farouk Macarambon of Fiat Construction Services, Maribel Ranola of Legazpi Premium Development Corporation and Ricardo Abriol Santos of Richmark Construction and Supply.

Degamo was earlier dismissed from service by the Ombudsman for the calamity funds misuse. But he returned to his post after being reelected and after the Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order on his dismissal. CDG/rga

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TAGS: Calamity Fund, Conchita Carpio-Morales, Governor, Negros Oriental, Ombudsman, Roel Degamo
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