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Ombuds dismisses raps vs. Tagbilaran ex-mayor

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines — The Ombudsman had dismissed the charges against former Tagbilaran City mayor Dan Neri Lim, some barangay chairmen and other city hall officials and employees for alleged unliquidated cash advances.

The decision is a vindication and big blow to the mayor’s political detractors and some media critics in this city, according to ex-mayor’s avid supporter (name withheld).

The anti-graft body granted the respondents’ motions for reconsiderations and dismissed the criminal and administrative cases against Lim, and City Hall employees—Catalino Castillo, Manuela Cunado and Manolo Blanco—according to Ombudsman in its 23-page decision, a copy of which was obtained by The Freeman recently.

Lim, through his lawyer Doni Piquero, filed motions for reconsideration stating that he regularly submits the liquidation reports of his confidential and intelligence funds to the office of the chairperson of the Commission on Audit.

The COA, thru its director Nilda Plaras, issued acknowledgment receipts—on March 18, 2011 and August 15, 2011—of Lim’s liquidation reports and supporting documents for the intelligence funds.

The Ombudsman ruled that, in dismissing the criminal and administrative cases against the former mayor and other accused, it considered the certificates of clearances that COA issued to Lim and Castillo before they were separated from office “are prima facie evidence they do not have outstanding financial accountabilities.”

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It further stated: “Respondent Lim’s third term as city mayor of Tagbilaran ended June 30, 2013. As a requirement for the release of his terminal leave benefits, he was issued a certificate of clearance signed by city accountant Eleanor Beniga, who certified that he (Lim) had no existing unliquidated cash advances.”

The Ombudsman also junked the criminal case against then city legal officere Handel Lagunay, and employees Eucofronio Bayot, Meniranda Alcantara, and Eutorgio Telmo Jr., but “they are hereby found administratively liable for violation of reasonable office rules and regulations and meted the penalty of reprimand.”

The Ombudsman said it found merit of the argument of Chairman Nestor Mendez of barangay Booy that he cannot be held liable for the P200,000—out of the P265,000—unliquidated cash advances since it was released prior to his term as punong barangay.

But the Ombudsman found that the remaining P65,000 released to the barangay in 2010 during the barangay captain’s term “was liquidated only after he received the consolidated resolution on December 2016.

 

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