THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas has indicted former Sibonga mayor Lionel Bacaltos for allegedly accepting an honorarium amounting to P17,512 that was intended only for the Municipal Health Office personnel in 2012.

Rheia Tibon, graft investigation and prosecution officer, found evidence to charge Bacaltos with violation of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“It is evident that respondent acted in bad faith in receiving the honorarium,” read Tibon’s six-page resolution.

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Mary Joejie Chan, who accused Bacaltos of violating the anti-graft law last Oct. 2, 2015.

In her affidavit, Chan said that PhilHealth has sponsored a health care program for Sibonga Municipal Government.

PhilHealth told Bacaltos that about 20 percent of the fund shall be allocated as honoraria for the municipal health personnel.

In February 2015, Bacaltos certified the obligation request representing 20 percent of PhilHealth honoraria to members of the Municipal Health Office personnel amounting to P280,197.

The list of recipients, however, showed that Bacaltos received P17,512 as his honorarium despite not being a member of the Municipal Health Office.

Replying to the charges, Bacaltos said the program does not require his approval as the town mayor.

He said that the PhilHealth letter did not prohibit the local chief executive from receiving an honorarium.

In the resolution, graft investigator Tibon said that Bacaltos “acted in bad faith” when he received the honorarium intended for the municipal health personnel.

“Certainly, respondent (Bacaltos) caused undue injury to the government for the amount of P17, 512 he received as honoraria despite not being entitled thereto,” said Tibon.

In a separate interview, Bacaltos said he received the P17,512 honorarium from Philhealth in “good faith.”

Bacaltos told SunStar Cebu he availed himself of the honorarium based on the guidelines of Philhealth’s Primary Care Benefit 1 package in which the agency provides a 20-percent share to the local government units.

Based on the program, of the 20 percent given back to the LGU, 10 percent goes to the handling doctor, five percent goes to health personnel and another five percent goes to non-health personnel.

Bacaltos availed himself of the honorarium as he initially thought that mayors were included in the non-health personnel due to their supervisory power over the LGU’s health office.

But he was surprised that the anti-graft office indicted him for availing himself of the honorarium.

If the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas would allow him, he was willing to refund the amount.

Bacaltos also believed the complaint against him was “politically motivated.”