Ombudsman orders filing of raps vs Davao execs

Subscribe Now March 06, 2011 at 12:22am

The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of a graft case against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other city officials before the Sandiganbayan. The charges stemmed from the alleged illegal use of the Special Education Fund (SEF) amounting to P11.5 million.

The complaint alleged Duterte and the city officials used the funds to pay for food and appliances as giveaways as part of a so-called “Pahalipay ni Mayor” program in December 2006. The SEF fund was intended to finance school-related projects in the city.

Apart from Duterte, the Ombudsman also recommended the filing of graft charges against Davao City administrator Wendel Avisado, Councilors Maria Belen Acosta and April Marie Dayap; City treasurer Rodrigo Riola; City budget officer Yolanda Tablizo; City accountant Rizalina Justol; Schools Division Superintendent Gloria Labor; and members of the Local School Board (LSB) identified as Florencio Colina, Alma Castillo, Gracita Camilo Berguia and Warlito Salido.

The complaint alleged Duterte led the city officials in using SEF funds, amounting to P11.5 million, to pay for catering services and the purchase of various appliances like television sets, refrigerators, and washing machines that were given away to city employees during the month-long activity.

The Ombudsman said this was a violation of Republic Act 5447, or the SEF law, that prohibits the use of the fund other than for operation and maintenance of public schools, construction and repair, educational research, purchase of books, and sports development.

Duterte denied the allegations, saying it had “an underlying political color.”

The other respondents justified the use of the SEF funds, claiming the payment of catering services and appliances for employees falls under “other fringe benefits and local and national public school teachers.”

The Ombudsman, however, said the respondents committed technical malversation, graft and violation of the SEF law.

“Feigning and orchestrating a purported DECS (Department of Education, Culture and Sports) related activity and expending the SEF therefore displays respondents’ manifest partiality and evident bad faith to cause damage to the government,” the Ombudsman said.


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