THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered the barangay chief of Sto. Niño, Malabuyoc town to vacate her post after the anti-graft office found her and two other officials guilty for illegally disbursing around P50,000 of their village funds in 2017.

On April 5, 2022, DILG Central Visayas director Leocadio Trovela ordered DILG Cebu Province director Jhoaden Lucero to implement the dismissal order against Sto. Niño Barangay Captain Erlinda Piedad, Barangay Councilor Luz Quiñones and former councilor Randy Quiñones.

Aside from dismissal, the three are perpetually disqualified from holding government positions and their retirement benefits are considered cancelled and forfeited.

Piedad is running for mayor against town councilor Daisy "Daya" Lim-Creus, the wife of Malabuyoc Mayor Lito Narciso Creus.

Trovela's order stemmed from an Aug. 20, 2020 decision issued by the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas against the three officials for the illegal disbursement of P50,000 in barangay funds supposedly for the conduct of socio-cultural activities including the holding of games and dance and singing contests in 2014.

A fact-finding team from the anti-graft office found that those listed as winners and recipients of the cash prizes from the contests were relatives and house help of the three officials.

And the supposed recipients testified that they did not participate in any contest, did not know that there was any that was held and that they never signed any document to show that they had received prizes.

The Ombudsman said Piedad and the two councilors allegedly forged the signatures of the “recipients.”

In a 10-page decision, the Ombudsman said they found substantial evidence to hold Piedad and her two co-accused administratively liable for grave misconduct after they not only benefited from the P50,000 they secured from the barangay's funds but also concocted documentation, including forging signatures, to make it appear that they held socio-cultural activities in their village.

"By falsifying the signature in the time book and payroll, respondents made it appear that the public funds were disbursed for the purpose of giving cash prizes to the concocted winners of the contest during the fictitious "Revival of Socio-Economic Activities" consisting of singing, folk dance, sack race and basag palayok," the decision added.

As of Wednesday, April 13, the DILG 7 team had been unable to locate Piedad.

SunStar Cebu tried to contact Piedad and some of her staff, but they had not responded as of press time.