Bogo mayor defends coop for getting P20M agri fund-A A +A
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
MEMBERS of a cooperative in Bogo are entitled as beneficiaries of a P20-million grant to the local government in 2007, as stated in the 2010 Commission on Audit (COA) report and letter of Bogo City Mayor Celestino “Junie” Martinez, Jr.
In his letter to COA last Aug. 25, 2011, Martinez said the grant given to their municipal cooperative did not violate provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8435, or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act.
Julio Ursonal Jr., one of the officials named in the complaint and against whom the Ombudsman recommended a case of grave misconduct, was not a government employee when the fund was transferred to the town.
Ursonal availed himself of the P500,000 loan sourced from the grant to finance his tricycle-for-hire business.
The decision of the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, signed by graft investigator and prosecutor Mona Chica Cabanes Gillamac, is to permanently disqualify Bogo Municipal Treasurer Rhett Minguez from holding public office for grave misconduct.
Minguez has retired from service as he will run for city councilor under the ticket of Martinez.
His co-accused, municipal accountant Cresencio Verdida and budget officer Mary Lou Ursal, were ordered suspended for six months without pay for simple misconduct.
Verdida has also retired from service while Ursal has left the country.
Calls to Minguez’s cell phone were not answered.
The Ombudsman’s decision also recommends an inquiry on the illegal use of the P500,000 to include Ursonal.
But documents showed that the P20-million fund was transferred to Bogo in March 2007. Ursonal joined Bogo LGU three months after that.
Based on the records of the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), executive director Presentacion Montesa signed Ursonal’s appointment on March 26, 2007.
The Civil Service Commission signed his appointment on June 22, 2007. The assistant municipal treasurer took his oath of office before Lorna Atega, BLGF 7 officer-in-charge on July 17, 2007.
Another document provided by cooperative members showed them to be beneficiaries, based on Ginintuang Agrikulturang Makamasa Program’s implementing guidelines.
The COA report said the programs’ beneficiaries are “LGUs, NGOs, comprising farmer associations, cooperatives, school and colleges, individual farmers who are members of an existing cooperative.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 17, 2012.