Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales indicts a village chief and secretary in Lapu-Lapu City for 92 counts of falsification of documents and 21 counts of anti-graft violations for purchases totaling P1.7 million.
The string of indictment, dismissal, and suspension orders meted by the Office of the Ombudsman as well as by the Sandiganbayan among several public officials in Cebu over the last few weeks doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.
This time a barangay captain and his village secretary were indicted by the anti-graft office for a staggering 113 counts of falsification of public documents and graft offenses, in an order approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Dec. 14, 2016 and received by the Visayas Ombudsman on Feb. 1, 2017.
The release of the order came in the heels of the dismissal order issued by Ombudsman against Cebu town mayors Efren “Gungun” Gica of Dumanjug and Augustus Moreno of Aloguinsan. Gica was dismissed for allegedly bloating by P10,000 the meal receipt for the dinner of village chiefs hosted by his office.
Moreno, who along with four municipal officials, was dismissed over a P200,000 purchase of food items from the bakery owned by his family, has opted to resign before his dismissal order could be implemented by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
In this case, Barangay Captain Allen Dimataga Jr. and former barangay treasurer Ethel dela Serna of Barangay Poblacion in Lapu-Lapu City were indicted after the anti-graft office found probable cause to charge them for 92 counts of falsification of public or official documents, in addition to 21 counts of violations of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The case stemmed from the criminal complaint filed by the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office (PACPO) of the Office of the Ombudsman–Visayas against Dimataga last April 6, 2015, over alleged questionable disbursement of barangay funds in the amount of P1,738,355.50 transacted between 2009 and 2010.
The investigation was prompted by the complaint filed in October 2012 by a Shane Harvey Omolon against Dimataga, “alleging that documents were falsified to make it appear that delivery of various supplies were made to the barangay in order to facilitate the issuance of checks in favor of suppliers.”
The Ombudsman resolution noted that two auditors from the Commission on Audit mentioned in their Audit Observation Memorandum that in their review of 21 barangay transactions, purchase claims with seemingly falsified supporting documents were processed, which resulted to the payment of the suppliers.
Barangay Councilman Galileo Roma, who chaired the village’s BAC, as well as Councilmen Rex Mangubat, Richard Ngujo and Virmay Dungog all denied those were their signatures that appeared in the various supporting documents involving the transactions with suppliers.
The purchases with irregular documentations include those for office supplies, assorted medicines, furniture and even asphalt – with amounts ranging from as low as P9,392.57 to as high as 199,976.96.
Dimataga, reached by phone by Cebu Daily News yesterday, belied the charges against him.
“Di man na siya tinuod, allegations ra man na siya (Those were untrue, they’re all allegations),” Dimataga said.
According to Dimataga, he only received a copy of the resolution last week and would still have to consult his legal counsel, lawyer Rico Amores, as to what their next step would be.
“Wa pa man na’y klaro gud mao na nangayo ko niya og advise (That case is still not clear so I need to ask for my lawyer’s advise),” he stressed.
Dimataga explained that Dela Serna was no longer connected with the barangay as he had dismissed her right after the issue came out.
Dimataga likewise insisted that it would be unfair to report the indictment as he still has to discuss with his lawyer the submission of a counter-affidavit.
But the graft investigation report, prepared by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Maria Regina Hagad-Fernandez, pointed out that Dimataga and Dela Serna were directed to submit their counter-affidavits on April 10, 2015, but they never heeded the order, even if there was a document to show that the order was received by the barangay secretary on their behalf.
Dimataga, however, insisted he has responded to the complaint, but was vague on when or how it was done.
“Nakahatag na ko pero wa man to’y klaro pero karon ang akong abogado na ang mohimo sa resolution nako (I gave a counter affidavit but it wasn’t clear, so now I am asking my lawyer to prepare a petition on this resolution),” he said.
The Office of the Ombudsman, however, said that by failing to refute the charges against them, the allegations against Dimagata and Dela Serna stood uncontroverted.
“In this case, to make it appear that the procurements were supported by the required documents, the signatures of barangay officials/BAC members Roma, Ngujo, Mangubat, and Dungog in the various disbursement vouchers, purchase orders, BAC recommendations, BAC resolutions, abstracts of bids, bidding documents of suppliers, minutes of the opening of bids, requisition and issue slips, inspection and acceptance reports, purchase requests, and BAC letter were falsified by respondents Dimataga and Dela Serna,” the resolution penned by Hagad-Fernandez partly read.
Because of these alleged anomalous transactions, the anti-graft office held that Dimataga and Dela Serna fabricated 21 disbursement vouchers, 17 purchase orders, 10 BAC letter-recommendations, 10 BAC resolutions, 6 abstract of bids, 11 canvass sheets, 7 minutes of opening of bids, 4 requisition and issue slips, 4 inspection and acceptance reports, and 2 purchase requests or a total of 92 documents.
“It was made to appear in the fabricated supporting documents that Roma, Ngujo, Mangubat or Dungog either certified to the existence of available appropriation for the charges/expense indicated, recommended procurement of supplies form the named supplier, certified that funds available or certified as to the validity, propriety, and legality of the claim,” the anti-graft office held.
“Thus, respondents Dimataga and Dela Serna caused it to appear that Roma, Ngujo, Mangubat, and Dungog have participated in proceeding when they, in fact, did not so participate and made untruthful statements in the narration of facts.”
The complaint against the two village officials included an allegation for malversation of public funds but it was dismissed by the Ombudsman for lack of probable cause since “the evidence submitted do not show that the materials/ supplies were not delivered to and received by the barangay.”
“Neither is it alleged or shown that the payments were not received by the supplier.,” the resolution added.
Moreover, the audit report used as a basis in the complaint “only mentioned of fund releases that are based on falsified documents but there is no mention of shortage, or taking, appropriation, or conversion by respondents of the barangay funds or property,” the resolution said.
The complaint also included Buenaventura Igot, the city accountant of the Lapu-Lapu City, but the cases against her were dismissed for lack of probable cause, as it was shown that Igot had no involvement in the alleged irregular transactions at the barangay.