Ombud probes ex-village chief-A A +A
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas is investigating the alleged misuse of P14.8 million in public funds by some village officials in Cebu City, which were intended for seedling distribution and goat dispersal in 2007.
Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol said his office is conducting a preliminary investigation to determine whether former Guadalupe barangay captain Eugenio Faelnar and other officials can be held liable for failing to account for the appropriation, which came from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of then Cebu City south district congressman Antonio Cuenco.
Barangay Guadalupe was used as the conduit for the fund.
Apostol said criminal and administrative charges may be filed against officials who misused public funds.
But Faelnar, in interview with reporters, dismissed the allegation.
He said the P7.6 million that was supposed to be used to purchase goats was later returned to the Department of Agriculture (DA) since the prices of the goats at that time were too high.
On Jan. 12, 2007, Faelnar and the Department of Agriculture (DA) entered into a memorandum of agreement for the implementation of the village's “Guadalupe Small Ruminant Production and Demonstration Project.”
The project aimed to “attain food security for its constituents living in the hilly section of its territory” and its neighboring barangays.
In the agreement, Barangay Guadalupe was tasked to take care of the maintenance, operating and other expenses to sustain the project.
In a separate interview, incumbent Guadalupe Barangay Captain Michael Gacasan said a public bidding was conducted in their barangay for the construction of a goat house and the purchase of seedlings.
Gacasan said the goat house was never used because it was not completed. The barangay did not also purchase the goats, he said.
He said the barangay spent about P5 million for the purchase of seedlings of fruit-bearing trees that were later distributed to 23 mountain barangays.
Faelnar said politics is behind the investigation.
He told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday that he was already investigated over the same issue.
“Magbalik-balik na lang sila og imbestiga. Election na man gud. Kabalo man ko kinsa nagbuhat ani ba (They have to investigate it again and again because of the elections.
I know who is behind it),” he said.
Faelnar said, though, he is ready to face the investigation.
Faelnar, a supporter of Team Rama, is running again for Guadalupe barangay captain in the Oct. 28 barangay elections.
He will be running against Gacasan, who is identified with the Bando Osmeña Punok Kauswagan headed by former mayor and south district congressman Tomas Osmeña.
“Naa nay resolution. Amo na nang giuli. Nadawat na nila ang cheke ana (There was a resolution on that. We’ve returned the check)," he said.
For the seedlings distribution, Faelnar said, he has documents to prove that these were received by beneficiary villages.
Faelnar, former Association of Barangay Councils chairman, said Barangay Guadalupe spent P4 million for the seedling distribution.
But he said the rest of the money was unused except for the construction of a goat house in barangay Taptap, Cebu City.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 17, 2013.