MANILA, Philippines – A week before the filing of candidacies for the Puerto Princesa recall elections, people associated with the mayor being recalled filed a plunder complaint against expected challenger Edward Hagedorn, himself a former mayor.
In a complaint filed with the Ombudsman last April 7, Rodrigo Saucelo, Wilfredo Rama, and Antonio Lagrada accused Hagerdon of “pretending to have spent his own money, managed to withdraw, get, obtain, receive and reimburse himself from the treasury or fund of the City Government of Puerto Princesa.” They said that, in all, the amount involved was P65 million.
Hagedorn, for his part, dismissed the complaint and said he plans to file perjury cases against the 3 “known supporters” of Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron.
Bayron and Hagedorn, relatives by marriage and former political allies, are expected to face each other during the recall elections on May 8. The filing of candidacies is on April 21 and 22.
Hagedorn, in a statement, said the elections are what motivated the 3 complainants to file the plunder case against him. (READ: Comelec: Puerto Princesa recall elections set for May 8)
“This plunder case is ludicrous and condemnable because it is a blatant and desperate attempt to tar and wreck the reputation of possible opponents even before the filing of certificates of candidacy is held on May 22,” said the former mayor in a statement on Monday, April 13.
‘Cacophony of lies’
According to the complaint against Hagedorn, a copy of which was given to the media, the former Puerto Princesa mayor encashed checks from December 2008 until December 2011 “in spite of the absence of official receipts, vouchers or other documents that will support and/or authorize payment of claim for reimbursable expense and by pretending to have spent his own money.”
Also implicated in the plunder case is former city administrator and lawyer Agustin Rocamora.
Hagedorn called the plunder case a “cacophony of lies.” Citing an analysis by Rocamora himself, Hagedorn noted that the case filed against him was “clearly based on false and legally questionable data culled from Commission on Audit (COA) report” and “ignorant of government disbursement procedures.”
Contrary to the complainant’s reading, Rocamora said, any allegations of plunder is the “complete opposite of the COA report.”
Hagerdorn also questioned why other city employees – those affiliated with Bayron – were not included in the complaint, although their positions meant their direct involvement in the city’s funding. – Bea Cupin/Rappler.com