The Negros Chronicle is a weekly publication published in Negros Oriental province, Philippines, vigilantly featuring the latest news updates around Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental since 1973.

City probes P3M electical graft

Not so much for helping the poor get free electrical installations, now with an aggregate usage of P3Milllion in public funds, but most of these were given to the past city administrationís political supporters to the detriment of others who supported other candidates.

To tap it all, it was not the mayor as city executive, but the vice mayor who ran for mayor (and lost) who was allegedly the approving officer of the giveaway pre-election bonanza, reports alleged.

The Blue Ribbon Committee of the Dumaguete City Council has therefore commenced, Wednesday, its investigation to the alleged anomalous doleout of electrical materials, worth P 3 million or more, for supposedly indigent constituents by the former Vice-Mayor Woodrow Maquiling Sr. without a written authority from the then mayor now Cong. Manuel Sagarbarria.

Maquiling, who ran but lost in the May 2016 election, vehemently denied the allegation and pointed out that he merely acted as mayor in the absence of Sagarbarria. In a letter sent to the City Counicl, Maquiling asserted that the distribution of the electrical materials to energize the poor households underwent through the prescribed legal processes.

However, City Agriculturist William Ablong, formerly the City Administrator, General Services Officer Azucena O. Gonzales and Human Resource Officer Jun Tenorio declared on record that Mayor Sagarbarria never issued an executive order designating Maquiling as Mayor from January to May 2016, which included the campaign period, thereby authorizing him to release the electrical materials.

In fact, Ablong and Tenorio claim that Sagarbarria did not incur prolonged absences and continued to perform his functions as the Local Chief Executive in the same period.

Under intense questioning by Councilors Joe Kenneth Arbas and Alan Cordova, Gonzales admitted that she failed to look into the completeness and legality of the Requisition and Issue Slip (RIS) required before the release of the electrical materials from the city warehouse for these were in the possession and control of Supply Officer Vicente S. Almayda, who, like Maquiling skipped the inquiry.

Upon closer examination of the RIS, Arbas pointed out that a recipient makes the request before Maquiling, who signed both as the requesting and approving party. The accepted norm is for the Office of the mayor to facilitate the request and approve the release of electrical materials.

It was found that the RIS did not have an attached certification that the recipient was indeed indigent. In fact, some of the recipientsí signatures did not appear in the document acknowledging receipt of the materials for these signed by somebody else.

There were reportedly hundreds of RIS that were signed by Maquiling as endorsed by some of his party mate incumbent councilors. Gonzales was criticized for not being diligent and vigilant enough in questioning Almayda for the seemingly irregular and large volume of releases too close to the election.

Councilor Estanislao Alviola scored Gonzales for not bothering to conduct a physical inventory and to check the authenticity and legality of the supporting documents.

Cordova warned that some people could be charged for malversation by negligence, misfeasance and malfeasance. He deplored the possibility that the materials could have been hoarded, wasted, resold or stolen from the warehouse due to collusion or failure to conduct physical inventory.

Arbon told the GSO that the release of the electrical materials was highly politicized in aid of election as Maquiling only granted the requests endorsed by his party mates while members of the then minority, which he used to belong, was purposely denied. The program has been terminated after the May elections.

Hence, Arbon agrees with the recommendation of Gonzales that henceforth all recipients must be required to present a case study by the CSWD proving that they are indigents and that all requests must be made before the Office of the Mayor being the executive and shall never emanate and processed by any member of the City Council.

Bandal said that Maquiling and Almayda will be invited again to the next regular session for the continuation of the inquiry. He instructed Gonzales to render a report of the physical inventory of all the electrical materials released and those left in the warehouse. Both Ablong and Tenorio will also issue certifications that no executive orders were issued by Sagarbarria authorizing Maquiling to approve the release of electrical materials.







© 2005 - The Negros Chronicle - News around Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental, Philippines