Sunday, May 6, 2012

News Update N. Ecija mayor, vice mayor face graft raps

ABIAO, Nueva Ecija, Philippines – The mayor and vice mayor of this town and six other officials are facing charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly faking resolutions of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) and illegal disbursement of P15.5 million in public funds.
Mayor Gloria Crespo-Congco, Vice Mayor Ernesto Talens Jr., Councilors Danilo Bagan, Danilo Clemente, Dante Umali, Luisito Relucio, Jose Talens and SB secretary Luisito Guevarra were charged with falsification of public documents, malversation of public funds, gross misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service.
Councilor Julito Wycoco and ex-officio Councilor Rodrigo Rivera, president of the Association of Barangay Captains filed the complaint.
Wycoco is the brother of the late National Bureau of Investigation director Reynaldo Wycoco while Rivera is a brother of businessman Ramil Rivera, who expressed his intention to run in the 2013 elections.
The two councilors accused the eight officials of falsifying Resolution 19, which was purportedly passed on Feb. 7, 2011, a holiday in the town. Rivera said he did not sign the document but his signature appears therein.
The complaint said another resolution – Kapasyahan 30 –allotting P5 million for certain town projects, was also falsified because no session was held on March 30, at the time it was supposedly signed.
The complainants sought the immediate suspension of the eight officials, saying their continued stay in office might prejudice the investigation of the case.
Congco and her allies, however, dismissed the charges as political harassment.
Congco also denied allegations that she orchestrated the railroading of the resolution. “As the mayor, what’s the point in me having to do this when the majority is with me? Why do I have to railroad the resolution? I don’t have the motive,” she said.
She also debunked allegations of fund misappropriation, saying the municipal accountant and budget officer have issued certifications that the releases were aboveboard.
“We never stole any money from the coffers of Cabiao and they all know that,” she said, even as she expressed confidence that they will be acquitted of the charges.
“God is with us. Our conscience is clear,” she added.
Talens, for her part, disputed the claims of Wycoco and Rivera that the SB session on Feb. 7 was illegal. “We never declared Feb. 7 a holiday but Feb. 9,” he said.
She added that it was a simple typographical error when the resolution passed on March 28 was dated March 30.
Talens said the two complainants were just playing politics.
Clemente said the charges were devoid of merit noting that the municipal government is a recipient of the prestigious Seal of Good Housekeeping given by the Department of Interior and Local Governments, which recognizes local government units that judiciously use their resources. - By Manny Galvez