JVR, son face graft charges

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Thursday, June 19, 2014


FOUR TALISAY City officials and a businessman are facing graft and misconduct charges before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for hiring a security agency allegedly without complying with the procurement laws.

The complainant, Vicente Cabrera Jr. of Barangay Tabunok, accused Mayor Johnny de los Reyes and four others of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Cabrera cited the annual audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) 7, which questioned the City's hiring of 91 security guards as job-order employees, in his complaint.

Apart from de los Reyes, the complaint also named the mayor's son and City Administrator John Yre delos Reyes, City Treasurer Emma Macuto, City Budget Officer Edgar Mabunay and Baltaire Balangauan, president of Black Pearl Security Agency, as respondents.

In a phone interview, John Yre welcomed the filing of the complaint. He said they are ready to face it.

No bidding

He admitted that no bidding was made prior to the hiring of the guards since the City contracted Black Pearl only to train the job-order workers.

John Yre said the guards were hired under the City Hall’s “Adopt-a-Talisaynon Program,” which aims to give employment priority to his constituents. He said they already responded to the auditors’ observation report.

In the audit report, COA noted that City Hall hired 91 Black Pearl guards and paid them P430 per day while other job-order personnel at City Hall receive only P300 daily.

The City Government contracted the Black Pearl security guards as job-order workers from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31, 2013.

COA found that a representative of Black Pearl claimed the wages of the security guards, a violation of audit rules.

The guards told auditors they only get P300 per day and the remaining balance of P130 goes to Black Pearl.

State auditors pointed out the City Hall could have saved P1,822,910 had it not involved the security agency.

In his complainant, Cabrera, who filed the complaint as a taxpayer, said that no “competitive bidding” was made prior to the hiring of the guards, thus violating the Government Procurement Act. The hiring of guards also lacked approval by the Talisay City Council, he said.

The City contracted Black Pearl Agency on Aug. 1, 2013 despite having no permit to operate, Cabrera said. The agency secured its permit to operate only on Nov.23, 2013.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 20, 2014.

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