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Catanduanes, Leyte mayors in hot water for graft

/ 12:02 AM May 31, 2017

State prosecutors have formally charged at the Sandiganbayan the former municipal officials of Viga, Catanduanes, over the purchase of a P13.95-million backhoe without public bidding in 2005.

Charged with one count of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were former Mayor Jose Torres, Vice Mayor Yolanda Tuquero, and Councilors Lourdes del Rosario, Asuncion Odi, Rosario Mollasgo, Horacio Aquino Jr., Domingo Villanueva, Orbel Tonio, William Tuplano, Gomercindo Litong and Nerissa Usero.

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Vice Mayor Tuquero and the councilors passed Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 41, series of 2005, to authorize the acquisition of a JCB 4CS 4x4x4 backhoe loader and declared Compressed Air Machineries Equipment Corp. as the sole distributor.

According to the information signed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Anjuli Larla Tan-Eneran, the council effectively arrogated upon itself the powers of the bids and awards committee (BAC) and did away with the required procurement process.

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Mayor Torres was faulted for representing the municipality in the procurement of the backhoe loader despite the alleged irregularities attending the process.

The prosecution recommended that bail be set at P30,000 each. Witnesses include officers of the BAC and the municipal budget office, as well as Camec president Manuel Pablico.

Meanwhile, the Ombudsman has found probable cause to order the filing of possible graft charges against the former mayor of Babatngon, Leyte, for allowing quarrying operations in 2014 despite the lack of permit from the provincial governor.

Former Mayor Charita Chan, as well as quarry operator Christopher Estrella of CSE Builders, face possible charges for violation of Section 3(e) of the graft law, according to a Tuesday statement by the Ombudsman media bureau.

Investigation showed that Chan allowed Estrella to continue operations even as the municipal council on Nov. 7, 2014 recommended that the latter be stopped from further extracting sand and gravel from Salug Dongon River.

The Ombudsman said in a resolution that the inaction “was an indication of respondent mayor’s manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence.”

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TAGS: Catanduanes, Jose Torres, Philippine news updates, Sandiganbayan, Viga, Yolanda Tuquero
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