Madridejos officials cleared in graft raps-A A +A
Thursday, October 25, 2012
THE anti-graft office cleared Madridejos Mayor Salvador dela Fuente and two town hall officials of charges that they connived to submit a tampered and falsified budget ordinance to the Cebu Provincial Board in 2009.
Luanne Ivy Cabatingan, graft investigation and prosecution officer, dismissed for lack of evidence the graft and falsification of public records complaints against dela Fuente, town treasurer Felixberta Pabualan and town budget officer Bella Oftana.
“After a thorough perusal of the voluminous evidence and analysis of the exchange of allegations…it is found that there is no probable cause for filing of either a case for violation of Republic Act 3019 and falsification,” Cabatingan said in her resolution.
The case stemmed from the complaints filed by Madridejos Vice Mayor Doroteo Salazar against the respondents before the Office of the Ombudsman- Visayas.
Salazar charged dela Fuente, Pabualan and Oftana with violation of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act) and falsification of public documents, which is penalized under the Revised Penal Code.
In his complaint, Salazar said dela Fuente conspired with Pabualan and Oftana to tamper, alter and falsify entries in the town’s 2009 appropriation ordinance when it was submitted to the Provincial Board for approval. (The ombudsman resolution did not mention Madridejos’ 2009 annual budget).
When the budget ordinance was submitted to his office for signature, the vice mayor said he temporarily withheld his signature due to some violations in the appropriation.
Salazar wrote the town council and pointed out the corrections to be made.
Salazar said he only learned from the appropriations committee chair during their session that the town’s annual budget was approved by the Provincial Board.
When he got a copy of the approved budget ordinance, Salazar said he discovered discrepancies, such as procedural lapses, tampering and falsification of figures.
He said that a copy of the budget ordinance that was received and approved by the Provincial Board did not bear the town’s seal and signature of the presiding officer.
The vice mayor also observed that some entries in the budget ordinance approved by the Provincial Board were tampered, altered and falsified.
Salazar said that dela Fuente abused his authority when the mayor lumped the casual wages of all departments, except the vice mayor’s office, under his office.
The alteration of entries in the budget ordinance allegedly increased the mayor’s office’s budget by P4, 918, 494.86, from P4, 329, 788.28 in 2008 to P9, 239, 238.14 in 2009.
The respondents, in their joint counter-affidavit, denied tampering with, altering or falsifying the budget ordinance in 2009.
The respondents said they could not be faulted if Salazar did not sign the final version of the budget ordinance since he was the one who refused to affix his signature on it.
Have no recourse left, the town government submitted the budget ordinance to the Provincial Board for approval, so as not to hamper the town’s delivery of basic services.
In the resolution, graft investigator Cabatingan gave credence to the respondents’ defense and junked the charges for lack of probable cause.
Cabatingan pointed out the lumping of casual wages of all departments was stated in the documents submitted by the defendants.
The increase of the mayor’s office’s annual budget, the ombudsman said, was due to increases in the proposed budget for various expenditures.
On the alleged tampering of document, the ombudsman said Salazar’s copy of the ordinance was his and not the Provincial Board’s.
The anti-graft office pointed out that Salazar could hardly show proof on the authenticity of his copy of the budget ordinance and the one approved by the Provincial Board.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 25, 2012.