Ex-Samal mayor banned from gov’t over cash gift
The Office of the Ombudsman has banned former Island Garden City of Samal Mayor Aniano Antalan from government service for receiving a P200,000 “cash gift” from a multipurpose cooperative that was awarded a pork barrel project in 2012.
Antalan was found guilty of the administrative offense of grave misconduct, and was dismissed from public service. He was ordered to pay a fine equivalent to a year’s salary.
As for his criminal liability, the Ombudsman also found probable cause to order his indictment for three counts of indirect bribery and two counts of violating Section 3(b) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits officials from receiving benefits in connection with a government transaction.
‘Expression of gratitude’
The case arose from the city’s December 2012 memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Samal Island Multipurpose Cooperative (SIMC) to implement microfinancing projects funded by the P5-million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation of then Rep. Cresente Paez of the party-list Coop-Natcco.
SIMC received the funding on Dec. 28, 2012. Investigators found that on the same
day, the cooperative gave Antalan the cash gift, which a board resolution described as “an expression of gratitude to him because he is always there for the cooperative especially in approving/signing of the MOA.”
In his counteraffidavit, Antalan did not deny receiving the cash gift, and admitted to receiving two tranches of P100,000 each in 2014 and 2016 “during the Christmas season.”
He said the amounts were “small or of insignificant value,” and thus fell under the exception of the antigraft law.
But the Ombudsman ruled the amounts were “not of nominal or insignificant value or mere tokens of gratitude under ordinary circumstances.” The resolution noted the SIMC board resolution explicitly stated that the cash gift was in return for Antalan’s help in securing the agreement.
The Ombudsman added that the MOA did not set aside the P200,000 for the purpose of giving a cash gift to Antalan. Even if it were, the amount still formed part of public funds “which should have been turned over to the city government for it to be the subject of regular accounting rules and procedures.”
“Verily, there is evidence to show that the money given was not intended for the implementation of SIMC’s microlending program but a cash gift at the full disposal of respondent,” the Ombudsman said.