Ex-Cebu mayor Loot faces graft charges

Lian Buan

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Ex-Cebu mayor Loot faces graft charges
Former Mayor Ma Luisa Loot of Daanbantayan, Cebu, is the wife of retired police general Vicente Loot, whom President Duterte has tagged as a narco-general

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has indicted for graft and malversation former Mayor Ma Luisa Loot of Daanbantayan, Cebu.

A prominent fixture in Cebu politics, Loot is the wife of retired police general Vicente Loot, who was tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the police officials allegedly involved in the drug trade.

Mrs Loot faces criminal charges over a P500,000 loan granted to an agri-business group which was found to be irregular. The loan remains unpaid to date.

In 2007, the RBA Quail Raisers Association chaired by Daanbantayan Councilor Samuel Moralde requested the local government for financial assistance for the expansion of its business.

Loot and Moralde entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA), which granted the group a P500,000 loan.

According to the Ombudsman, the agreement was without the required approval of the sangguniang bayan. Loot and Moralde also failed to closely monitor the project, which would have ensured the success of the venture, and therefore ensured the repayment of the loan.

“There was no periodic monitoring or evaluation of respondent Moralde’s quail egg farming. Non-enforcement of RBA’s contractual obligations by Loot is indicative of negligence and/or grant of unwarranted benefit, preference or advantage in favor of respondent Moralde, who, for his part, also failed to comply with the provisions of the MOA,” the Ombudsman’s resolution said.

On the loan being unpaid, Moralde said he had sought for a condonation because of the devastation caused by Typhoon Frank in June 2008. Moralde also claimed crucial documents were destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.

Still, the Ombudsman said there is basis to say that Loot and Moralde “acted with evident bad faith, manifest partiality, or gross inexcusable negligence.”

“Nothing in the records show the existence of any request for condonation or any action taken by the Sangguniang Bayan on the request.  Even so, the fact remains that prior and after the typhoon, respondent Loot failed to conduct monitoring and evaluation to ascertain the progress of the project and proper utilization of the funds,” the resolution said.

Mayor Loot was once declared the richest mayor of Cebu. In 2012, the Philippine Star reported she had a net worth of P108.6 million

The Loots’ wealth has been the subject of scrutiny since Duterte tagged the husband as a narco-general.

Mayor Loot and General Loot’s joint 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) showed that they had P70 million worth of assets. General Loot had said that most of it were due to his wife’s properties acquired before their marriage. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.