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Ex-Samal mayor barred from holding public office

MANILA, Philippines — The former mayor of Samal island can no longer run for public office.

Aniano Antalan was found guilty of grave misconduct for receiving cash gifts from a local cooperative, according to a resolution recently approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. 

Aside from perpetual disqualification from holding public office, the ombudsman ordered Antalan’s dismissal from the service, forfeiture of his retirement benefits and cancellation of his civil service eligibility. Since Antalan is no longer in office, the penalty of dismissal is convertible to a fine equivalent to his salary for one year.

The ombudsman also ordered the filing of three counts of indirect bribery and two counts of graft against Antalan before the Sandiganbayan. 

Ombudsman records showed the city government entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the party-list group COOP-NATCCO and the Samal Island Multi-purpose Cooperative (SIMC) in December 2012 to implement a microfinance project funded by  the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel of former COOP-NATCCO party-list representative Cresente Paez.

Graft probers said SMIC received P5 million on Dec. 28, 2012 while the cooperative gave Antalan P200,000 as “cash gift.”

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An SIMC resolution showed that the board authorized the release of the money as “an expression of gratitude” to Antalan.

In his affidavit, Antalan did not deny receiving P200,000 from SIMC. He said he also received P100,000 from the cooperative in 2014 and 2016 during the Christmas season, adding that the  amount was of “insignificant value.”

However, the ombudsman said the amount was “no mere token of gratitude under ordinary circumstances.”

“It was manifest that the reason of SIMC’s board in giving the cash gifts was to acknowledge the help given by respondent in the approval of the MOA,” the ombudsman resolution read.

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