Court orders arrest of North Cotabato governor
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan ordered the arrest of North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza for the 3 graft charges pending against her.
The order to issue an arrest warrant was signed by 4 members of the anti-graft court’s First Division on Tuesday, April 26, who found probable cause in the earlier graft complaints filed against the governor by the Ombudsman.
This came more than 2 weeks after the Ombudsman filed corruption charges against Mendoza over findings she used government funds to buy diesel worth P2.4 million from a gasoline station owned by her mother.
Mendoza was charged with 3 counts of violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices law. The charges are bailable, and she will be asked to pay P30,000 for each count, court officials said.
The governor is at the center of the Kidapawan controversy. Farmers' groups have accused her of ignoring their demand for sacks of rice in the wake of the drought in the region.
Mendoza is running for reelection on May 9 under the ruling Liberal Party.
The Ombudsman said Mendoza approved the release of P2.4 million from provincial coffers to pay for 49,526.72 liters of fuel used during a two-day road repair project. She did not conduct any bidding and instead contracted the Taliño Shell Station, which is owned by her mother, the Ombudsman added.
In her initial response to the complaint, Taliño explained that it was only that station that was “willing to accommodate the credit term requested by the provincial government.”
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dismissed this argument, saying “there was no compelling justification for dispensing with the requirement of public bidding.” – Rappler.com