The Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City has recommended the filing of criminal charges against Gov. Roel Degamo and two other provincial officials before the Sandiganbayan for alleged violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, malversation and grave misconduct.
The case stemmed from the complaint filed in 2012 by June Vincent Manuel Gaudan, of Purok Santan, Barangay Taclobo in Dumaguete City. Included as respondents are Provincial Treasurer Danilo Mendez, as chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee, and Provincial Accountant Teodorico Reyes, who was among those responsible for the disbursement and release of the P480 million calamity fund to the contractors, records show.
The Ombudsman has cleared Degamo of any administrative liabilities under the Aguinaldo Doctrine, because of his re-election as governor in 2013. But as far as the criminal liability is concerned, it recommended the filing of the case before the Sandiganbayan, and he was given 15 days, from April 8, to answer.
The Ombudsman found probable cause against the three officials for 11 counts of malversation of public funds through falsification, and for violation of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Provincial attorney Richard Enojo said the Ombudsman resolution has no effect on Degamo as he continues to dispense with his duties, functions and responsibilities as governor of Negros Oriental, contrary to the false and untruthful pronouncements of his detractors that he has been suspended and dismissed.
“I’m not doubting the integrity of the Ombudsman who rendered the resolution dated January 12, 2016 and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on March 16, but I strongly believe the governor’s detractors had a hand in pushing for the resolution of the case in such a way that it will be out few weeks before the election in May 9,” Enojo stressed.
The Ombudsman case stemmed from the controversy surrounding the release of the P480 million calamity fund, which is 50 percent of what was requested by Degamo in 2012 after typhoon Sendong hit the province on December 11, 2011, followed by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in February 2012.
Under the rules of procedures, resolutions of the Ombudsman can be appealed before the Court of Appeals then the Supreme Court, and Enojo said there is no finality yet of the Ombudsman’s resolution.
He said the three of them will file a motion for reconsideration before the Ombudsman, and if they cannot accept the decision, the next remedy would be to bring the matter to the Court of Appeals, then to the SC, before going back to the Sandiganbayan.
Mendez and Reyes said they believe that what they’re doing is within the ambit of the law and they will use all available remedies, with Degamo assuring them his support. The governor said the two employees are merely caught in the crossfire and should be given their day in court.*JG