Ex-Cebu mayor charged with graft, malversation
The ombudsman said the former Cebu mayor failed to comply with the conditions in the memorandum of agreement such as the conduct of periodic monitoring and evaluation to ascertain the actual operation of the project.
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Ex-Cebu mayor charged with graft, malversation

Elizabeth Marcelo (Philstar.com) - April 14, 2018 - 3:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — Former Daanbantayan, Cebu mayor Maria Luisa Loot, was formally charged by the Office of the Ombudsman over the questionable implementation of a livelihood project in 2007 worth P500,000.

Filed before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, the cases involve violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation of public funds under the Revised Penal Code.

Named as Loot's co-accused in both cases was former Daanbantayan councilor Samuel Moralde, who was also identified by the ombudsman as the chairman of RBA Quail Raisers Association (RBA).

Based on the information of the cases, Loot, on behalf of the municipal government, entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with RBA on Feb. 28, 2007 granting the organization a loan of P500,000 to finance its quail egg farming operation as part of the local government's livelihood project.

The ombudsman said the MOA was entered into without the required approval of the Sangguniang Bayan or municipal council and even when RBA was not yet an accredited organization at that time.

The ombudsman said Loot and Moralde also failed to comply with the conditions in the MOA such as the conduct of periodic monitoring and evaluation to ascertain the actual operation of the project.

Furthermore, the ombudsman said the loan remains unpaid and Moralde failed to submit “evidence showing that the public fund was used for the intended purpose.”

The ombudsman said Loot's negligence allowed Moralde to take and convert the public fund “to his own personal use and benefit...to the damage and prejudice of the government.”

The ombudsman recommended to the Sandiganbayan to set Loot and Moralde's bail bond at P70,000 each.

The charge sheets were prepared by assistant special prosecutor Jorge Espinal on Dec. 27, 2017 and were approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Jan. 5, 2018.

The cases, however, were formally filed at the Sandiganbayan only last April 6.

It was in March 2017 when the ombudsman issued a decision finding probable cause to charge Loot and Moralde in court.

In its decision, the ombudsman said it cannot be ascertained whether the livelihood project really materialized as there was “no record of any transaction” related to its implementation submitted by the respondents as evidence.

Loot is the wife of the incumbent Daanbantayan mayor Vicente Loot, a retired police chief superintendent who was tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 as among the police generals protecting big-time drug lords.

Mayor Loot had repeatedly denied the allegation.

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