THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas admonished an official of the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) over unauthorized use of a government-issued vehicle in a wedding reception in 2012.

Llorene Grace Razo-Ompod, graft investigation and prosecution officer, found Claro Cagigas, Jr., Port Management Division 8 and 9 manager, liable for violating reasonable office rules and regulations.

“It is very unlikely and highly questionable that the CPA had to use two government vehicles to transport those documents on a Saturday, not a regular working day, without validly issued trip tickets for said purpose,” said Ompod in her eight-page resolution.

Complaint

The case stemmed from an anonymous complaint sent to the Visayas Ombudsman on the allegedly unauthorized use of government vehicles in a wedding reception last Aug. 25, 2012.

A fact-finding investigation by the anti-graft office revealed that the government vehicles with plate numbers SJC-190 and SJC-528 were issued to Cagigas and Ernesto Boltron, Jr., Port Management Division 1 manager, respectively.

The ombudsman said there was no trip ticket issued to Cagigas’s vehicle on the date the car was used to go to a wedding reception.

The trip ticket issued to Boltron appeared “incomplete and highly questionable” since the time and date of departure and arrival of vehicle were not indicated, the ombudsman said.

Boltron admitted he was issued the Toyota Avanza as his service vehicle in Toledo City until he was reassigned to Cebu City in 2010.

After his reassignment, he said the vehicle is still under his name and has not been transferred to the new division manager assigned in Toledo City.

Boltron said he had no knowledge that the vehicle was used during one of their staffer’s wedding on Aug. 25, 2015.

For his part, Cagigas admitted having used the vehicle when he attended the wedding of a staff member to “foster camaraderie and strong rapport” among his subordinates.

He clarified that the vehicle was not primarily used as transportation for the wedding, but for the delivery of the office’s used and unused official receipts, billing reports, and other accountable documents to Cebu City for liquidation and review.

Cagigas said he regretted having committed such lapse in the use of government vehicle in his 27 years of service.

Liable

In the resolution, graft investigator Ompod found Cagigas liable of reasonable office rules and regulations, and not misconduct, since it was the respondent’s first offense.

Ompod rejected Cagigas’s defense of fostering rapport and camaraderie among his staff and that he should not lose sight of the standing rules and regulations on the use of government vehicle.

The ombudsman did not give credence on Cagigas’ defense that the vehicle was used to transport the office documents since Aug. 25, 2012 is a Saturday.

While the ombudsman dismissed the complaint against Boltron since he had no longer control over the vehicle, the ombudsman reminded him to transfer the vehicle’s name to proper official to avoid such circumstance.