Former, incumbent Bacolod mayors face graft raps
The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to separately charge with graft the former and incumbent mayors of Bacolod City.
Former Mayor Monico Puentevella is facing charges for malversation of public funds and graft for failing to liquidate P21.5 million in funds spent for the city’s hosting of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2005.
In a separate order, the Ombudsman also indicted Mayor Evelio Leonardia for graft in relation to irregularities in the purchase of office equipment, furniture and fixtures worth P49 million in 2008.
Both denied the charges.
Puentevella said he would ask Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to reconsider the decision approved on May 26.
“The liquidation was still pending and being reviewed by the Commission on Audit (or COA, at the time of the filing of the complaint in February and in May 2014),” Puentevella said in a statement.
“In most cases, it is premature for the Ombudsman to decide on this case simply because the COA has yet to give its final resolution. The Ombudsman recently dismissed similar cases outright simply because it was still premature,” he added.
“My conscience is clear,” said Leonardia. “This case does not involve dishonesty.”
He said the case involved “procedural and technical” issues. “No money was stolen from the government and
that all goods were delivered,” he said.
In a 17-page joint resolution, the Ombudsman said Puentevella “acted with evident bad faith” in failing to liquidate P21.5 million of the P50.5-million funds for the SEA Games from Nov. 27 to Dec 5, 2005.
The personal vouchers and photocopied invoices and contracts submitted by Puentevella, then Bacolod representative, did not support the disbursements, the Ombudsman said.
The COA ordered Puentevella, then president of the Bacolod SEA Games organizing committee, at least twice to liquidate the disbursements but failed.
In another order, the Ombudsman affirmed its Dec. 2, 2016 joint resolution finding probable cause against Leonardia and nine city officials for not following the procurement rules and showing partiality to a supplier in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Leonardia secured a 60-day temporary restraining order and later, a preliminary injunction from the Court of Appeals that stopped the implementation of the Ombudsman order. —With a report from Vince F. Nonato
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