Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ecija mayor, 9 town execs charged before Ombudsman for graft

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, February 5, 2013–A municipal mayor in Nueva Ecija and eight municipal officials were slapped with criminal cases before the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged anomalous transactions and malversation of public funds.

          Charged with falsification of public documents, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to public interest before the Office of the Ombudsman were Mayor Richard Ramos of Lupao, Nueva Ecija and his subordinates engineer Bernardo Bascos, municipal planning and development coordinator, municipal treasurer Arthur Villar, municipal social welfare and development officer Danilo Jacang, and bids and awards committee (BAC) members Camilo Orofino Jr., Roger Nerizon, Benigno de Vera, Veritum Tolete and Charito Alambra.

          Also charged was businesswoman Shiela Marie Jacalan, owner of the SRS gas filling station, a first cousin of Ramos, and sister of Orofino.

          Ramos is running for reelection against councilor Marivic Bajet-Vendivil, wife of slain former mayor Alfredo Vendivil.

          The five-page complaint against the 10 were filed by Joselito Zarate,an employee of the treasurer’s office. It stemmed from the purchase by the municipal government of P767, 627.66 worth of gasoline and diesel from Jacalan who was accused of being favored for being a relative of Ramos.

          The complaint cited a Commission on Audit that the municipal government incurred gasoline and vehicle repair and maintenance expenses worth P3.1 million without official documents.
          In his complaint, Zarate said Ramos and the other officials allowed Jacalan to participate in the bidding even though she is his relative in violation of Rule 15, Section 47 of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9184, also known as the Government Procurement Reform Act).

          “Respondent Ramos knew but he just let her take part in the bidding and did not do his duty to protect the interest of the municipal government,” Zarate said in his complaint. 

         “Worst,” Zarate added,  “the respondent-members of the BAC had disqualified other bidders with respondent Jacalan emerging as the only remaining bidder is respondent Jacalan.”

              Batid aniya ni Ramos na disqualified si Jacalan na makilahok subalit hinayaan lamang nito.
            The other official were included in the complaint for allegedly conspiring to rig the bidding, with Orofino signing the purchase documents covering the gasoline supply from SRS, a company owned by his sister Jacalan.   
           “It indeed appears that respondents are in unison and conspiracy to rig the bidding to award the supply of the fuel and oil products to SRS Gas Filling Station for their own personal benefits and advantage  to the prejudice and damage of the Municipal government of Lupao, Nueva Ecija,” the complaint said.
        Zarate attached in his complaint-affidavit a supplemental complaint accusing Ramos, Villar at municipal accountant Marciano Panahon of  malversation of public funds, grave misconduct, dishonesty, gross negligence and conduct prejudicial to public interest.

           This is in connection with P730,000 reportedly deducted from municipal employees from December 2005 up to June 2007 as their share in the Pag-Ibig Funds. Due to the non-remittance of their Pag-Ibig contributions, the employees could not avail of loans.
      “This is a clear violation of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code (malversation of public funds or property),” he said. 
           Zarate said Villar and Panahon advised him to talk to Ramos regarding the problem but the mayor did not do anything.

“Evidently, he must be an accomplice or accessory, if not conspirator, for malversation of these personal and government shares which are considered as public funds,” the supplemental complaint stated.

He said the problem worsened when the loan to Pag-ibig ballooned to P2 million in 2011. (Manny Galvez)


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