GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – An anti-corruption watchdog has filed before the Office of the Ombudsman a grave misconduct complaint against 4 Sarangani officials for the continued release of salaries and benefits to two local officials serving life terms in prison.
The complaint of the Sarangani People’s Action for Reform and Good Governance (SPAREGO) is against Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon, Vice Governor Jinkee Pacquiao, and Provincial Board Members Hermie Galzote and Elmer de Peralta.
The complaint was signed by Fr Raul Valle, Fr Antonio Chua, United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) pastors Reverend Avelino Sichon and Gil Almarez, and Felix Montallana.
SPAREGO cited the continued release of salaries and benefits to provincial board members Eugene Alzate and Cornelio Martinez Jr even after the promulgation of their life sentence for malversation of public funds, handed down by the anti-graft court earlier this year.
The complainants alleged that despite the Sandiganbayan conviction, Alzate and Martinez continued to draw their salaries from the provincial government upon the approval of acting Vice Governor Galzote with the certification of De Peralta.
At the time the approval was made, Pacquiao was on maternal leave. She gave birth to her fifth child with Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao on April 27.
In March, Solon was quoted as saying that it might not be fair to deny the convicted Sarangani officials of their benefits “because their case is under appeal.”
The governor did not answer phone calls to get his side on the complaint.
SPAREGO is an anti-graft watchdog formed in 2003 following the discovery of alleged massive corruption in Sarangani reportedly similar to the pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim Napoles.
SPAREGO, then headed by the late Fr Fred Maghanoy and Sichon, filed graft and corruption charges against nearly all Sarangani provincial officials and department heads, accusing them of fleecing the provincial coffers of some P43 million in less than 3 years.
Like the pork barrel scam, whistleblowers Mary Ann Gadian and Sheryll Desiree Tangan detailed how the Sarangani officials allegedly used bogus cooperatives and organizations to funnel the Countrywide Development Fund of then Sarangani Representative Erwin Chiongbian for their own personal use.
The officials also allegedly used ghost beneficiaries and forged signatures to obtain the release of government funds.
The fund scam led to the defeat of former Sarangani Governor Miguel Escobar and his group in the 2004 elections.
SPAREGO had earlier filed separate cases against Escobar and other high-ranking provincial employees for alleged violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The Office of the Ombudsman found Alzate and the rest of his co-accused administratively liable and perpetually barred from running for and holding public office, but an appeal enabled Alzate to regain his provincial board seat in 2010, under Representative Pacquiao’s People’s Champ Movement. – Rappler.com
There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.