Ombudsman orders preventive suspension of 2 Bogo officials

08/13/2010 - THE Office of the Ombudsman ordered the preventive suspension of two Bogo City Hall officials for their alleged participation in the P26.5-million Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP) fund controversy about six years ago.

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez placed Bogo City treasurer Rhett Minguez and accountant Cresencio Verdida under a six-month preventive suspension without pay for dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

“A careful examination of the record and the pieces of evidence presented would reveal an initial finding of acts which show an intent to violate the truth,” Gutierrez said in her five-page order dated Jan. 8, 2010 but was released by the Ombudsman-Visayas yesterday.

The order did not mention any action on former congresswoman Clavel Asas-Martinez, who allegedly disbursed the fund from her Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf) to her personal bank account by using the GSP as a conduit in 2002 and 2003.

The case stemmed from an unsigned complainant alleging Martinez, wife of Mayor Celestino “Junie” Martinez Jr., connived with City officials and GSP officers in taking about P11.5 million from her Pdaf in 2003 and “misappropriated such sum for her own personal benefit.”

Sun.Star Cebu tried to get the side of the former congresswoman, through her husband Mayor Martinez, but his mobile phone was off.

The Ombudsman-Visayas launched its fact-finding inquiry into the incident after it received on April 26, 2004 documents from a “concerned and troubled official of GSP-Cebu Council” narrating how the former congresswoman disbursed her Pdaf and deposited it in her personal account.

According to the unnamed complainant, the transfer was made convenient by Martinez’s incumbency as head of the GSP council at that time and the assistance of her daughter, Ma. Cielo, who was then the council’s treasurer.

The Ombudsman-Visayas filed three counts of malversation of public funds against Martinez and eight others.

Gutierrez, in her order, said the two respondents were charged for allegedly conspiring to cause the release of the P11.5-million “causing undue injury to the government through manifest impartiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”

“Moreover, it also shows some transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction from duty, unlawful behavior, improper or wrong behavior and unlawful behavior by public officers in relation to the duties of their office which are willful in character,” Gutierrez’s order further read.

Minguez was charged for attesting to the availability of funds while Verdida was impleaded for certifying the supporting documents were complete and previous cash advances were liquidated.

Gutierrez also directed the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government to implement the order and submit a compliance report within five days upon receipt of such order
(Sun Star)

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