Mayor Lim, 8 others in graft, plunder raps before Ombudsman
BASED ON COA 2020 ANNUAL AUDIT REPORT
NINE senior officials of the Dagupan City government led by Mayor Brian Lim are facing administrative as well as criminal cases in complaints filed before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon on April 1 for Serious Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct, and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and for Violations of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, Malversation of Public Funds and Plunder.
The other respondents, aside from Lim, are Eva Daroy, former city accountant; Rosario Catugas, concurrent City Accountant; Romelita Alcantara, City Treasurer; Engr. Melchor Guiang, head of General Services Office; Jonnafel Radovan, Human Resources management officer; Dr. Dalvie Casilang, city health officer; and Allan Zarate, bids and awards committee (BAC) chairman.
The 27-page complaints, a copy of which was obtained by the PUNCH, was filed by the Small-Scale Fish Consignment and Retailers at Riverside in Dagupan City, represented by Marietta Barrientos, the same group that filed a complaint for direct bribery against three members of the Dagupan City Market Marshal Task Force, all from the city mayor’s office.
The complaint cited following questionable disbursements:
- Liquidation of Cash Advance amounting to P1,440,811.85 for the expenses incurred by the Dagupan City Children’s Choir that competed in Bangkok Thailand was not supported with complete documentation, casting doubt on the validity and propriety of the transaction;
2, The City hired 803 job order (JO) personnel, which represented 56% of the total manpower compliment of the City, without the JO personnel in the City’s Organizational Structure and Staffing Pattern Plan, and several JOs submitted manually accomplished Daily Time Record instead of using the DTR generated by biometrics that accurately records working hours.
- For lack of Program of Work (POW), 23 projects listed in the Annual Investment Program (AIP) with a total appropriation of P136,648,830.09 remained unimplemented as of December 31, 2019.
Citing the audit report of State Auditor IV Michael Basa, audit team leader, in the 2020 Annual Audit Report on the City Government of Dagupan, the following that had discrepancies:
- The costs of three units of motorcycles amounting to P442,900,00 each or a total cost of P1,268,700.00 were not specifically itemized as to basic unit cost and modification/ customization costs so the basis for computation of liquidated damages could not be determined;
2, Without an organizational structure written policy and uniform requirement in the management of JO personnel, the reliability of services paid were doubtful.
- The unattended suspension orders issued on previous years resulted in the deferment of the construction of six projects with a total contract cost of P11,967,564.29.
- The failure to hire a radiologist for the City’s Diagnostic Center resulted in non-utilization of P3,904,700 worth of medical equipment.
The complaint underscored the “blatant disregard of the laws protecting the government funds by the respondents that manifested the “existence of irregularity in the transaction entered into by the City Government of Dagupan represented by the respondents.”
The complainants asserted that the audit findings showed that the respondents committed the crime of Malversation of Public Funds penalized under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, when they were in unison and conspired in continuously hiring Job Order personnel in CY 2020 that has ballooned to 948 JOs.
The complaint also cited payment of P113,760,000 in CY 2020 as salaries of the JOs, and Malversation of Public Funds was committed when they deliberately disregarded Section 76 of RA 7160, Section 124 of PD 1445 and Section 5.1 of COA Circular 2012-003, a flagrant disregard of basic rules in hiring JOs.
The complainant presented a table showing the adverse findings of COA in its annual audit reports for 2019 and 2020 that indicated the questionable disbursements in the total amount of P268,990,606.23.
The complainant sought and order for the six-month preventive suspension of the respondents to prevent them from interfering on the investigation and from tampering the needed evidence to deter them from influencing the supposed witnesses; and to be meted the penalty of dismissal from the service which shall carry with the cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, accrued leave credits and perpetual disqualification for re-employment in the government. (Leonardo Micua)
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