Cebu News

ABC sues Rama for malversation

Rene U. Borromeo ug Mylen Manto - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines -  A criminal complaint for technical malversation was filed against Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and city budget officer Nelfa Briones before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas yesterday.

Yesterday morning, Association of Barangay Councils President Michael Ralota, assisted by his lawyer Jennie Aclan, handed over the complaint sheet at the receiving area of the anti-graft office.

In his complaint, Ralota, also barangay captain of T. Padilla, Cebu City, said the City Council passed an ordinance for the annual budget for the operation of the Cebu City government for 2012 which was approved by Rama.

Under the annual budget, he said the City Council appropriated P5 million as financial assistance to the ABC and aside from that, the city council set aside another item as aid to the barangays of the city government amounting to P175,700,000.

However, he said they discovered one month from the effectivity of the annual budget that their funds were diverted to another purpose. 

“As early as Jan. 10, 2012 or barely one month from the affectivity of the 2012 Annual Budget for the City of Cebu, without the knowledge and consent of the ABC, the Office of the Mayor and his cohorts surreptitiously started chipping away or allocating portion of the P5 million financial assistance appropriated by the Sanggunian Panlungsod to the ABC,” the complaint reads.

As of Jan. 10, 2012, Ralota said the Office of the Mayor slashed their budget by P1,250,000.  On Apr. 2, 2012, the Office of the Mayor again slashed P1,250,000 and on Jul. 2, 2012 another P1,250,000 and on Sept. 6, 2012 another P750,000.

From P5 million, it now became P500,000. Ralota said the P5 million was to be used in purchasing tires, mixers and garbage trucks, which can no longer be done.

The financial assistance was spent for the gasoline and oil of vehicles assigned to different barangays of the city.  The diversion of the funds has no approval from the ABC.

“It may be amiss to state that Rama, Briones or any other responsible persons for that matter were not authorized by, and have not secured any form of authorization whatsoever from, the ABC Board of Directors to withdraw and to appropriate for other stated purposes, the P5 million financial assistance to the ABC under Ordinance No. 2295 or annual budget,” the complaint reads.

Ralota said the ABC were shocked and dismayed that only P500,000 was left in their funds.

 “…No less than the mayor himself fraudulently and clandestinely took away the money that was supposed to financially assist the ABC in carrying out its powers, functions and duties for itself as an organization and for and on behalf of its member-barangays,” the complaint read.

Aclan said they are asking for the preventive suspension of all involved in the release for six months.

“Their continued stay in office may prejudice the prosecution of the present case by influencing possible witnesses or tampering with public and official records in their custody,” she said.

She added they also asked the Office of the Ombudsman to subpoena the Office of the Mayor to turn over all documents covering the alleged illegal transaction in order for them to know the other persons involved in the crime.

Aclan also said they will be filing an administrative complaint for grave abuse of authority against Rama before the Office of the President.

Rama welcomed the filing of criminal charges.

Rama said the existing budget ordinance provides that the mayor is empowered to realign certain budgets under his office that is why he approved the proposal of Briones to realign the P4.5 million of the unused P5 million allocations for the ABC.

While Ralota said the mayor violated Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code because it is considered a technical malversation when he used the budget for other purpose, Rama argued the amount is still being used to buy fuel for barangay vehicles.

Rama said he is not afraid of the case because he did not use the amount for personal interest.

Rolando Ardoza, head of the City Hall’s General Service Office, said the city ran out of fuel last October because the City Council only approved P100 million for fuel allocation this year.

The mayor was able to secure P10 million unused fund for the needed fuel for the city and barangay vehicles, but incidentally P4.5 million of it was taken from the supposed to be Aid to the Barangays.  BRP (FREEMAN)


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