Candaba ex-mayor charged for P128-M ‘ghost projects’

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Saturday, March 8, 2014


CANDABA -- A group of Candabeños led by Arnold Canimo on Friday filed plunder complaint against former mayor Jerry Pelayo before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Canimo, together with Freddie Pelayo, Dionisio Pelayo, Gaudencio Lacanilao, Rufino Soliman, Lorenzo Catacutan, Edgardo de Guzman, Bernardo Santiago, Francisco San Pedro, Dionisio Guevarra, Rodolfo Manalili, Jessie Laurente, Zacarias Laurente, Romeo Balatbat, and Danilo Bartolome, accused the former mayor of alleged "connivance with several individuals and corporations to embezzle some P127.7 million in government funds" for what they claimed were "ghost projects" supposedly implemented during the term of Pelayo.

The complainants alleged that Pelayo "engaged several individuals and corporations for 11 separate contract agreements to establish, maintain, develop, rehabilitate and improve a demo farm at the Clark economic zone in Pampanga province, and construct, repair, rehabilitate and improve irrigation service roads, including the Barangca Bridge over Malisik River."

The complainants said that the former mayor "entered into contracts with corporations or entered into projects that never materialized or (were) never completed" like the "abandoned" preliminary works at the Clark demo farm and green market. Handtractors, irrigation pumps, planting materials, pesticides, seeds and other equipment that were supposed to be used for the demo farm, were not delivered to the municipality of Candaba, Canimo and his group added.

They further alleged that Pelayo's "crony corporations received funds from the Candaba municipal hall based on disbursement vouchers. The corporations would then deliver the funds to the Arroyo ally in exchange for a three-percent handling fee."

"In sum, respondent Pelayo, then mayor of the municipality of Candaba, in connivance with respondent corporations, amassed, accumulated, and/or acquired ill-gotten wealth, in the amount of P127,753,914.64 through… a series of misappropriation and conversion," the complainants said.

Along with the former mayor, Ruel de la Cruz, Patrick McCrann, Jien Zhien Chen, Elmer Sanchez, Cornelyn Martha del Ponso, Emmanuel Belen, and Miles Gangcuangco were also charged with plunder.

Sun.Star Pampanga was able to reach Pelayo by phone on Saturday but begged off to issue a statement, saying he was at the wedding rites of his son, Michael.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 09, 2014.

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