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Oplan Red Plate nets Toledo City councilor

CEBU, Philippines - A city councilor of Toledo was among the last batch of government officials and employees caught by the Oplan Red Plate Task Force of the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas using government vehicles for personal purposes.

The councilor, whose name is being withheld by the anti-graft office pending a formal investigation, was caught in Minglanilla, with a red plate vehicle, shopping in a convenience store with his family and a private driver.

The councilor was among the 15 additional officials and employees now facing investigation before the Ombudsman for improper use of government vehicles.

Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol yesterday said during the weekly “Giyera batok sa korupsiyon” program over dyLA that in Cebu, there are already 71 officials and employees caught by the task force.

Ombudsman director Carla Tanco said that of the 71 cases that their office docketed for investigation, five have already been upgraded into formal administrative adjudication.

Among the five officials and employees now facing formal administrative case for misconduct is the former Bureau of Immigration regional director Reynaldo Almaden.

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During the fact-finding investigation, Tanco said they found sufficient grounds to upgrade Almaden’s cases to criminal and administrative.

Almaden was reportedly caught by the Oplan Red Plate Task Force in Ayala Mall using a government vehicle on a weekend.

The criminal case, however, was not approved by Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Palanca Santiago because they could not quantify the damage to the government considering that there was no trip ticket.

Tanco explained that they could not verify how much gasoline was wasted by Almaden for using the vehicle. Almaden then explained that he was on official function meeting with foreign investors in a restaurant inside the mall.

Another official caught during that opening salvo of the Oplan Red Plate campaign was Provincial Board Member Wilfredo Caminero. But Tanco said the fact-finding team recommended for the dismissal of the case against Caminero after they found no sufficient ground.

Caminero was able to justify his presence at the mall, claiming that he was on his way to the Cebu International Convention Center to attend an official function. — Fred P. Languido/LPM   (THE FREEMAN)

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