Sipalay mayor scores graft raps

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Monday, March 5, 2012


SIPALAY City Mayor Oscar Montilla dismissed the charges filed against him and 20 other officials and employees of the City Government with the Office of the Ombudsman as politically motivated.

Criminal and administrative complaints for plunder, malversation of public funds, and violation of the Anti-Corrupt and Practices Act were filed at the Office of the Ombudsman Friday by a certain Rodolfo Divinagracia of the Samahang Magdalo against Montilla.

Samahang Magdalo is a volunteer organization which promotes social and political change. The group is headed by former military officer Gary Alejano who ran for Sipalay mayor in 2010 against Montilla. Alejano lost in his mayoralty bid.

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Montilla asserted that the charges are politically motivated, citing that the group of Alejano has been coming up with recycled charges against him and his administration.

Divinagracia, a member of the Samahang Magdalo, accused Montilla of allegedly stashing away P480 million or more of government funds from the period 2002 to 2010.

Also named in the complaint were Montilla’s wife Juana, his mother Soledad who is the city vice mayor, members of the City Council, government employees and Simfroso de la Cruz, a radio commentator of Radyo ng Bayan based in the locality.

According to the press release from Alejano’s group, Divinagracia claimed that Montilla and his family and their accomplices allegedly acted in concert and in conspiracy with each other by pillaging and mismanaging the City of Sipalay, resulting to enormous loss of public funds.

Montilla said he has managed the City Government of Sipalay with utmost transparency.

As a reaffirmation of this, Montilla cited that the Department of Interior and Local Government has accorded the City Government with the Seal of Good Housekeeping.

The said recognition is only given to a local government unit after a thorough review by the Department of Interior and Local Government to ensure that the local government’s operating systems and procedures and internal controls are within government standards.

He lamented that since Alejano lost in the 2010 elections, Samahang Magdalo has been coming up with unfounded charges against him.

Alejano has also filed an election protest against Montilla in connection with the 2010 election but the case was dismissed by the Comelec for lack of basis.

Meanwhile, Senator Antonio Trillanes expressed his support for the case filed against Montilla.

“Graft and corruption is an obstacle that must be fought in the national and the local levels. The President has done his best to weed out the obstacles for his reform agenda. However, this endeavor must be complemented with concrete efforts from the local government units,” Trillanes said.

“I trust that under the auspices of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, this case will be expeditiously investigated, if only to demonstrate that justice reigns in this country,” he added.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 05, 2012.

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