4 councilors in Zambo Norte dismissed over fake reimbursements
ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed from service 4 municipal councilors of Tampilisan in Zamboanga del Norte for attempting to get reimbursement for supposed expenses from a working trip that did not transpire.
Councilors Wilson Ampil, Rubicjun Bicoy, Leo Angelo Covarrubias, and Benjamin Pahayahay used photocopied Certificate of Attendance (CA) and official receipt as proofs that they attended the general assembly of the Philippine Councilors League at the plush Crown Regency Resort on Boracay Island on October 16 to 18, 2014.
In the Ombudsman decision, Rosemel Robles Banaga, graft investigation and prosecution officer, said the 4 councilors attempted to commit fraud and cheat the government.
They borrowed the CA and official receipt of a fellow councilor, Anna Sali Malicay, and photocopied them to support their reimbursement claims.
Claiming that they failed to get funding for the Boracay trip, the 4 councilors borrowed P12,500 each from Tampilisan Vice Mayor Karen Joy Bation and asked her to book their flights using her personal credit card. They reportedly promised to repay Bation once they got their reimbursements.
After the Boracay event, the 4 councilors processed their reimbursement claims, but Bation discovered they did not go to Boracay.
Municipal accountant Sherry Lou Daprosa revealed she disallowed the councilors’ reimbursement fee of P9,500 each because the CA and official receipt they used looked “simulated” and “unauthentic.”
Sought for verification, the Philippine Councilors League told Bation that the 4 Tampilisan councilors were not on the list of attendees at the Boracay summit.
This prompted the vice mayor to file a complaint before the Ombudsman.
The 4 councilors denied deceiving the vice mayor and the municipal government of Tampilisan. In their joint affidavit, they instead blamed Bation for lending them P12,500 each only, which they said were not enough, forcing them to attend the Boracay summit without registering.
However, Councilor Malicay, who actually attended the Boracay summit, executed an affidavit, saying that Ampil, Bicoy, Covarrubias, and Pahayahay borrowed her CA and official receipt, photocopied and used them to support their reimbursement claims.
Besides, Merry Joy Lubantina, Sangguniang Bayan administrative assistant, also issued an affidavit, saying the 4 councilors personally signed and submitted to her their reimbursement claims.
The Ombudsman eventually held the 4 councilors “guilty of grave misconduct, dishonesty and conduct unbecoming of a public official and are meted out the supreme penalty of dismissal from service.”
The Ombudsman decision added, “Such penalty carries with it the cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and bar from taking civil service examinations.” – Rappler.com