Guv, provincial vet charged for plunder

NEGROS Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and provincial veterinarian Dr. Renante Decena are facing charges on plunder for the alleged overpriced purchase of sheep and cattle by the Provincial Government.

Bacolod-based lawyer Roger Reyes filed a plunder case before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas against Marañon and Decena on December 23, 2013.

Reyes said that his complaint is in line with the Negros First Development Agenda of Marañon and that Decena on September 21, 2011, endorsed a project proposal for the implementation of the Negros First Ranch Sheep and Beef Cattle Breeding Project with a requested project cost of P100 million.

By virtue of trust and confidence vested with the governor, the Provincial Board passed Appropriation Ordinance No. 2011-011 on November 23, 2011 enumerating, among others, the appropriation schedule for the purchase of cattle and sheep from Australia with the allocation of P100 million to be sourced from the Land Bank of the Philippines in form of loan, Reyes also stated in his complaint.

“The Province of Negros Occidental has incurred millions of pesos of losses for the unreported deaths of sheep occurring more than a year ago and for the unaccounted heads of sheep allegedly dispersed to some individuals for free,” the lawyer said.

He added that from the start, the patent irregularity in the transaction implemented by Marañon and Decena and their supplier International Livestock Export Pty. Ltd. (ILEPL) is grossly disadvantageous to the Province of Negros Occidental.

“This act of spending government money on a purchase which is clearly overpriced constitutes a blatant violation of Section 3, Paragraph g of the Republic Act 3019,” Reyes said.

The provision refers to “(e)ntering, on behalf of the government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.”

Reyes accused Marañon and Decena of “misusing government money in the purchase of overpriced sheep, (with) commissions and shipping expenses resulting in actual losses for the Province of Negros Occidental in the amount at least P50 million plus losses due to mortality of the pretend sheep and distribution of sheep without any consideration.”

“This also constitutes a violation of Section 1, Paragraph 4 of Republic Act No. 7080 or the Anti-Plunder Law,” he added.

Second District Board Member Salvador Escalante, an ally of Marañon, said the case is politically-motivated.

Reyes is a lawyer of former Pulupandan Mayor Magdaleno Peña, a relative and chief campaigner of former Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr., who was defeated by Marañon in the May 2013 elections.

In April this year, the governor filed a libel complaint against Peña before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Escalante City, claiming that the then mayor “continually, relentlessly and publicly used the print and broadcast media to maliciously impute a crime, a vice or defect to discredit him.”

Escalante, who is currently acting governor, said that Marañon will answer the case in a proper forum, adding that the issue on the alleged overpricing in the sheep and cattle purchase is rehashed as it was already used against the governor during the election campaign.

“The governor won and he was vindicated from those issues," the board member said.

Escalante said he hopes that the board members will be spared from the case.
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