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CEBU, Philippines – Seven barangay captains in Lapu-Lapu City accused Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan of misusing funds meant for COVID-19 response.
They filed a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman – Visayas in Cebu City last February 8, and released a copy of the complaint to the media on February 15.
The seven complainants accused Chan and other officials under his administration of violating Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code or Malversation of Funds, and RA 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, due to what they called “questionable purchases” for COVID-19 and relief-related supplies.
All of the captains are aligned with former mayor and currently Lapu-Lapu City’s Lone District Representative Paz Radaza. She is challenging Chan to become mayor again in the 2022 election.
- Eduardo L. Cuizon of Bankal
- Eleonor T. Fontanaza of Gun-ob
- Regina P. Ybanez of Looc
- Triponia Abayan of Tungasan
- Joselito A. Tibon of Subabasbas
- Reynaldo D. Tampus of Canjulao
- Rosalino W. Abing of Maribago
The captains questioned why the city government purchased food supplies in 2020 from Heritage Muebles Mirabile Export, Inc, a company registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a furniture supplier.
“In November of last year (2021), we were utterly dismayed to learn that the City government of Lapu-Lapu, through the Mayor and his appointed personnel, made it appear that the City of Lapu-Lapu purchased several supplies for the COVID-19 Isolation facility, including food packs and food relief items like rice, sardines, noodles, etc. and non-food relief items from one and the same supplier,” wrote in the formal complaint.
Cuizon is the current president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) and an ex-officio member of the Lapu-Lapu City Council.
According to the complaint, the Commission on Audit (COA) found that P7 million worth of non-food relief items and P4.9 million worth of COVID-19 supplies were purchased from the furniture company for the city’s COVID-19 facility in 2020.
They also flagged an additional P35,975,550 used for food relief items and food packs for COVID-19 that were purchased from Muebles for 210 individuals in 2021.
The amount allegedly misused and flagged by the group reached a total of P47,225,550.
The complainants noted that the CEO of the aforementioned furniture company, Charles Lim, is the husband of Ma. Sunshine B. Lim, Chan’s appointed commissioner of Lapu-Lapu City’s Tourism Cultural & Historical Affairs Commission.
While Chan has not yet received a copy of the complaint, he reacted to the issues raised by the barangay captains in local media reports.
The mayor explained that with the urgent situation in the city when the COVID-19 lockdowns began in 2020, there were only a few suppliers available to provide relief goods and that they accepted “every supplier” who came to them.
“If their basis is the 2020 COA report, there was nothing disallowed by COA, so for me, there is no basis, because it was allowed by COA,” Chan said in a statement in Cebuano sent to media Thursday evening, February 17.
The mayor said that it was “part of his detractors’ game plan” and that the move was politically motivated for this coming election.
“They did it to taint the good works I’ve done for the people since they can’t find any legitimate issue [against me],” he added. – Rappler.com