AT THE height of the controversial issuance of a fake resolution from the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) in San Simon town, Pampanga, the legislative body is facing another issue after its secretary allegedly brought out official documents from the office on Monday morning, January 18, 2021.
Vice Mayor Leonora Wong said SB Secretary George Cariño took the original copy of resolutions and the logbook without permission from the local council or fellow office staff.
"According to our staff, Secretary George on Monday morning asked for the original copy of resolutions and the logbook and brought them to my office next door to check something but when checked by the staff hours later, nobody was in my office anymore," Wong said.
The incident reportedly alarmed SB staff and immediately sought the assistance of some SB members including Councilor Keko Almario and Wong.
Upon learning the situation, Wong said she informed her colleagues through their Messenger group chat, to which Cariño replied saying he only photocopied the documents.
"My question is, why the need to take these important documents outside of the office and the municipal hall in general for photocopying when we have our own machine in the office?" she asked.
Wong feared that tampering of the files may have been committed while the papers were outside of the office.
Cariño is among those that were accused in the issuance of an alleged fake SB resolution to an investor here.
The SB documents that were taken out were reportedly brought back by Cariño in the office on Tuesday morning, or about 24 hours since he got them.
Wong said she already ordered the inventory of the documents, including the actual number of pages returned and the contents.
As head of the local council, Wong said a penalty will definitely be imposed against Cariño for his alleged illicit actions.
"I am looking into preventive suspension while we are investigating the incident, but I am hopeful that the documents were not because the integrity of our office is already compromised after the manufacture and issuance of a fake resolution and we cannot afford any more issues like this," the vice mayor said.
She added that 24/7 guarding of SB office is now implemented to prevent such incidents from happening again after she was not allowed to take custody of the documents in the mean time.
Custodian of files
Cariño, for his part, said there was nothing unusual with what he has done as he is the custodian of the documents.
"There is nothing unusual for the SB secretary being the custodian of files to photocopy the documents because they contain sensitive information that needs to be duplicated because when even a single page goes missing. I will be held accountable for it by the officials and the people of San Simon," he said.
Cariño said he was only doing his responsibility of protecting the integrity of the documents by producing duplicate copies of them.
He added that the lack of a functional photocopy machine in their office pushed him to take the files outside of the municipal hall but immediately brought them back the following morning.
"My only purpose in producing duplicates of the said documents is to ensure that there are available copies, which I can certify as true copies at any given time because it is my responsibility as the one in charge of it," he said.
Cariño also assured that he will submit to any investigation, as well as the inventory of files that will be launched by Wong.
"I can assure that I did not edit a single word in those files because I know the consequence of tampering with such official documents. Please trust me as your SB secretary because I will not put myself in jeopardy," he said.
The SB secretary urged local officials to stop the bickering in the meantime and focus the efforts on addressing the more pressing problem that is the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Many of our Kabalens have lost their jobs, some do not have enough food on their table and some have lost their loved ones due to the pandemic. I hope we can focus our attention on this more pressing concern," he said.