Negros Oriental gov, 2 others face raps for calamity fund misuse
MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has found probable cause to indict Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and two other provincial officials for malversation and gross negligence over the illegal use of calamity funds.
The Ombudsman said in a statement on Tuesday, May 3, that Degamo, provincial treasurer Danilo Mendez, and provincial accountant Teodorico Reyes are facing 11 counts of malversation through falsification and one count of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The charges stemmed from the illegal use of the calamity fund intended for the repair, rehabilitation, and construction of structures damaged by Typhoon Sendong in 2011 and the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in 2012.
The Ombudsman said that upon the request of Degamo, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued a Special Allotment and Release Order (SARO) in the amount of P961.5 million. Of this amount, P480.7 million was immediately released to the provincial government.
A few days later, however, the DBM informed Degamo that the SARO was being withdrawn due to the provincial government's failure to comply with existing guidelines for infrastructure projects.
Despite the notice, Degamo and the two other officials proceeded to award the infrastructure contracts amounting to P143.2 million, representing the 15% advance payment to contractors for 11 infrastructure projects, the Ombudsman said.
The Commission on Audit later issued 11 Notices of Disallowance to the province, observing that funds were certified available despite the withdrawal of the SARO.
Morales said the officials' "unilateral act of ignoring DBM’s authority is indicative of bad faith, manifest partiality and/or gross inexcusable negligence which caused undue injury to the government."
Under Section 3(e) of RA 3019, public officials are prohibited from "causing any undue injury to any party, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence."
Degamo is seeking reelection on May 9, under the Nationalist Unity Party/Partido Negrense. – Rappler.com