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Ombudsman gains headway in drive vs. graft, corruption under Duterte administration

MANILA, July 8 — The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) has gained headway in the campaign against graft and corruption during the first year of the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

With the government’s all-out war against graft and corruption, the Ombudsman has charged before the Sandiganbayan several government officials and employees for various offenses.

The Ombudsman has ordered the filing of a petition before the Sandiganbayan to initiate forfeiture proceedings for the recovery of the unexplained wealth of former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima and his family amounting to PHP29.2 million.

In a consolidated resolution dated July 4, 2017, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered that forfeiture proceedings be initiated under Republic Act No. 1379 for the recovery of the unexplained wealth accumulated by respondents Purisima, his wife Ma. Ramona Lydia Purisima, sons Rainier Van Albert, Eumir Von Andrei, Alan, Jr. and Jason Arvi.

Likewise, Morales ordered the filing of charges for nine counts of perjury against Purisima for willfully and deliberately failing to disclose all of his properties in his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) for 2006 to 2014.

In the parallel administrative case, Purisima was found guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and acquisition of unexplained wealth and was ordered dismissed from the service.

In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to the respondent’s salary for one year.

The Ombudsman has also ordered the filing of a petition to initiate forfeiture proceedings for ill-gotten wealth against former Department of Education (DepEd) Regional Director Jesus Nieves, in conspiracy with his wife and daughter, respondents Segundina Nieves and Gwendolyn Sola.

Segundina was a former Education Supervisor II while Gwendolyn used to occupy the position of Data Controller III, assigned at DepEd Region VI, Western Visayas in Iloilo City.

Records of the Ombudsman showed that based on their Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), the combined declared income of the three respondents for the years 2005 to 2007 is only PHP1,953,597.50.

The Ombudsman found that the said income was not proportionate to the wealth they accumulated from 2005 to 2007 totaling PHP10,601,402.50

Likewise, the Ombudsmman charged former Banisilan, Cotabato Mayor Betty Allado with violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, for irregularities in the procurement of consultancy services in 2012.

Included as co-accused are members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), namely: Jaime Alisasis, Ramil Jayma, Marietta Nonan, Ramon Capanang, Carmencita Bari, Andres Serue, Raymond Franco, Jornalito Allado, Hilario Cabangon.

Noel Bryan Tuling, the manager of JK Engineering and Design and Consultancy Services (JK Engineering), was also included in the indictment before the Sandiganbayan.

In 2012, the municipality of Banisilan became the beneficiary of the “Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig sa Lahat” program of the national government and was granted the amount of PHP7 million for its implementation.

Allado, et. al. facilitated the procurement of consultancy services for the water project.

However, the respondents failed to present proof that they complied with the requirements of RA No. 9184, or the “Government Procurement Reform Act”.

Likewise, the Ombudsman has found former Mabini, Bohol Mayor Esther Fostanes-Tabigue guilty of grave misconduct for allowing four illegal “tupadas (cockfighting)” in 2013 and 2014, exacerbated by her whimsical refusal to renew the license of an existing cockpit operator.

In a 15-page decision, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales imposed on Tabigue the penalty of dismissal from the service with forfeiture of all her retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

However, in view of Tabigue’s separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to her one-year salary.

In the related criminal complaint, Tabigue also faces indictment before the Sandiganbayan for four counts of violation of Presidential Decree 449, or the “Cockfighting Law of 1974”, and violation of Section 3(j) of Republic Act No. 3019.

The case arose from a complaint filed by Danilo Du, the town’s cockpit franchisee since 2009.

Tabigue was alleged to have arbitrarily refused to renew Du’s license to operate a cockpit in 2014 despite substantial compliance with the requirements.

The respondent also allowed the conduct of illegal tupadas in violation of P.D. 449 which requires that cockfighting events for charitable purposes must support a national, not merely local, fund raising campaign approved by the President to be held in a licensed cockpit, park or playground.

Moreover, the Ombudsman has ordered the filing before the Sandiganbayan of multiple charges of graft against former Misamis Oriental governor and now Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno for the lease of heavy equipment without conducting any public bidding.

Moreno and seven others are facing six counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019.

Standing as Moreno’s co-accused are members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Patrick Gabutina, Elsie Lopoy, Rolando Pacuribot, Divina Bade, Cancio Guibone, Leemar Tinagan and Elmer Wabe.

The Ombudsman also found Moreno, Lopoy, Pacuribot, Wabe, Tinagan et. al. guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and ordered their dismissal from the service.

The dismissal order carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and bar from taking the civil service examination.

Records of the case showed that Moreno, et. al. approved and facilitated the payment of PHP1,414,179.40 for the lease of fuel tankers, trailer trucks and vibratory road roller on various dates in 2007 and from 2011 to 2012.

No public bidding was conducted for any of the lease contracts and instead, the respondents resorted to the alternative method of shopping.

The respondents failed to show a single BAC resolution or minutes of the BAC meeting to justify the procurement.

Furthermore, the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of graft cases before the Sandiganbayan against three Tigbauan, Iloilo executives for their involvement in the anomalous procurement of second-hand tractors in 2009.

Facing trial before the anti-graft court for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 are former Mayor Excelsior Torres, municipal agriculturist Eugenia Sayson and market supervisor George Tinguban.

Likewise, the Ombudsman ordered the two-month suspension of Sayson and Tinguban after they were found guilty of misconduct.

Ombudsman probe showed that the municipality of Tigbauan purchased two second-hand Ford tractors worth PHP1,873,928.58 in 2009.

The three respondents accepted and facilitated the full payment for the machines without testing the hydraulic spool valves.

The tractors turned out to be defective and had to be repaired in order to be functional and serviceable.

At the same time, the Ombudsman has ordered the suspension of Matag-ob, Leyte Mayor Agustin Pedrano, Sr. after he was found guilty of simple misconduct.

The suspension for one month and one day came after a probe found that Pedrano used the municipality’s Nissan Urvan without any supporting documents.

On Aug. 26, 2013, members of the Inter-Agency Oplan Red Plate Task Force in Ormoc City apprehended the vehicle driven by administrative aide Ramelito Parac.

On board as passengers were Pedrano, his wife and family.

When asked for a copy of the driver’s trip ticket, the respondents failed to present one.

The Ombudsman has also ordered the filing of five counts of violation of Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6713, or the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees”, against Sulu Vice Gov. Abdusakur Tan for failure to file his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Likewise facing the same charges for two counts are Maimbung, Sulu Mayor Samier Abubakar Tan and for five counts Lugus, Sulu Mayor Al-Zhudurie Asmadun.

Records from the Ombudsman showed that Vice Gov. Tan failed to file his SALN from 2007 to 2011.

Meanwhile, Samier failed to file his SALN for 2010 and 2011 and Asmadun did not file any SALN from 2010 to 2014.

On the other hand, the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of charges against two officials of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) assigned at the Revenue District Office (RDO) 29 in Manila.

Group Supervisor Nora Halamani and Revenue Officer III Abolais Ampa are facing charges of direct bribery and violation of Section 7 (d) of Republic Act No. 6713.

In its resolution dated June 30, 2017, the Ombudsman conducted inquest proceedings against the two BIR officials who were entrapped on June 29, 2017 by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

According to the complaint, the two respondents demanded PHP400,000 in cash “for the boys” in exchange for approved and signed BIR payment forms.

Halamani and Ampa were tasked to handle the tax liabilities of Dealco Farms, Inc. and demanded the payment of money in exchange for the forms which the taxpayer needed to submit to the bank.

They were arrested by the NBI after receiving the bribe money inside the third floor of the BIR office in Intramuros, Manila. (Perfecto T. Raymundo/PNA)

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