Ex-Daanbantayan mayor, councilor indicted for graft, malversation

THE Office of the Ombudsman on Friday filed graft and malversation charges against a former Daanbantayan, Cebu mayor and an incumbent councilor before the Sandiganbayan over the P500,000 loan granted to a business engaged in quail raising.

Former mayor Ma. Luisa Loot and councilor Samuel Moralde are facing charges of malversation of public funds and one count of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The case against the two is in connection with their financial grant to RBA Quail Raisers Association in 2007, an association led by Moralde, which the Ombudsman later found to be anomalous.

On January 31, 2007 RBA requested the Daanbantayan municipality for financial assistance for the expansion of its agri-business.

On February 28, 2007, the Daanbantayan and the RBA entered into a Memorandum of Agreement granting loan to the latter amounting to P500,000.00.

Ombudsman Conchita-Carpio Morales in an investigation found that Loot and Moralde failed to comply with the conditions in the MOA such as: the periodic monitoring and evaluation to ascertain the progress and accomplishment of the projects, proper utilization of the fund and compliance; monitoring of records of all transactions of the quail raising project to ensure its repayment.

The loan also remains unpaid.

In defense, Moralde claimed that the devastation caused by Typhoon Frank in June 2008 forced the RBA to seek condonation of the loan.

He further claimed that the in November 2013 the documents of RBA were destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda.

The Ombudsman, however, did not give credence to Moralde's defense.

In its decision, the Ombudsman held liable both the officers for entering into the MOA without authority from the Sangguniang Bayan and for displaying no diligence to ensure the payment of the loan.

The Ombudsman said the respondents acted in bad faith, evidence to this Loot and Moralde's "inexcusable negligence."

"There was no periodic monitoring or evaluation of respondent Moralde’s quail egg farming. Non-enforcement of RBA’s contractual obligations by Loot is indicative of negligence and/or grant of unwarranted benefit, preference or advantage in favor of respondent Moralde, who, for his part, also failed to comply with the provisions of the MOA," Morales said.

Morales also noted that they have not found in the records any condonation request made by Moralde.

“Nothing in the records show the existence of any request for condonation or any action taken by the SB on the request. Even so, the fact remains that prior and after the typhoon, respondent Loot failed to conduct monitoring and evaluation to ascertain the progress of the project and proper utilization of the funds," Morales said.

“No record of any transactions related to the implementation of the project was submitted in evidence," the Ombudsman added. (SunStar Philippines)

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