Lolypop, Luigi REACT: Graft cases ‘harassment’
Liv G. Campo (The Freeman) - March 31, 2016 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - A day after separate parties charged them before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for graft for acts committed during their previous terms, the camps of Mandaue City mayoralty bets, Councilor Emmarie "Lolypop" Ouano Dizon and sixth district Representative Luigi Quisumbing, claimed the lawsuits were just intended to harass them.

The legal counsel of Dizon yesterday said the case against her is baseless and without substance, while the camp of sixth district Rep. Luigi Quisumbing yesterday denied that the congressman had a hand in the procurement of P4.7 million multicab ambuvans even if the funds were from his Priority Development Assis-tance Fund.

"Klaro nga harassment, ilang birahon si Lolypop. Ang issue nga wa'y nada," said Gloria Dalawampu in a press conference at Dessert Factory in Parkmall, Mandaue City.

 Mandaue City residents Lito Ferrater and Allan Bisquera charged Dizon before the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas for allegedly failing to disclose in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) the proceeds of the sale of her real property.

Based on her 2011 SALN, Dizon indicated in her assets under real properties a 2,500-square meter commercial lot located in Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City, with an assessed value of P10 million.

Dalawampu said the property was acquired by Dizon's husband, Nixon Ting, in 1992, two years before they were married. She said under the law, a public official must include all the assets including that of his/her legal partner, even if these are not common.

"This was declared by Lolypop (in her 2011 SALN). She was just being honest," she said.

However, in 2012, Nixon Ting sold the property for P20 million, hence Dalawampu said since it was exclusively owned by the husband, and "not a conjugal property" the sale went to him, and not to the councilor's bank account, hence the money did not reflect in her succeeding SALNs.

On July 17, 2012, Dizon and her husband executed a deed of absolute sale for the said lot in favor of Foton Motor Philippines, Inc. for P20 million.

Dizon's campaign manager Gonzalo Malig-on said the case has "no merit" and he is positive that it will be dismissed.

"No merit ang kaso, murag di abogado ang nagpreparar. Pagpanglawgaw ra," he said.

He said it is also "politically motivated" even if the complainants claimed that they are just residents of the city. He also said they may file a counter case as the issue has tarnished the name of Dizon.

Meanwhile, the camp of Quisumbing said he never had a hand in the procurement of the multicab ambuvans.

"The purchase of these units by the Province of Cebu went through the correct legal process including the Commission on Audit. This therefore negates all accusations of conflict of interest or violation of any law," said Elaine Bathan, legal counsel of Quisumbing and Norkis Group of Companies, Inc., in a press conference.

This statement came a day after Roberto Letaba filed a complaint against Quisumbing for alleged violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act for his alleged "indirect" involvement of the procurement of the 19 ambuvans in 2011 and 2013.

Letaba said even if Quisumbing is "indirectly" involved in the sale, the transaction was done in "cold hands" wherein both parties --the office of Quisumbing and the Capitol-- had a mutual agreement that the province, then under the administration of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, would purchase the ambuvans from Porta Coeli Industrial Co., Inc., an affiliate of Norkis.

Norkis is Quisumbing's family's business.

As per Commission on Audit report, in 2011 and 2013, the Province of Cebu procured 19 multicab ambuvans for P4.7 million from the PDAF of Quisumbing "without public bidding" as required by RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act "which may have deprived the Provincial Government of the opportunity to procure vehicles at a price most advantageous to it."

"More importantly, the vehicles were procured from an affiliate company of the Norkis Group of companies owned by the Quisumbings," the report added.

However, Bathan said the case is "not only baseless but also doubtful as to its motive," and the timing is "too suspicious" considering that the filing came after a recent survey gave her client an overwhelming lead against his rival, Councilor Dizon.

 "It is highly probable that someone is behind this dirty tactic to attack the good name of Cong. Quisumbing and his family," Bathan added.

She explained that the funds went through the "proper documentation" from the Department of Budget and Management, which releases all PDAF, and was an allowed allocation for the Province of Cebu.

"As an LGU it is the province of Cebu which is the procuring entity for the purchase of the multicab units. It passed through the Bids and Awards committee of the province where Cong. Quisumbing or his family is not a member. In short there is no way for Cong. Quisumbing to be able (to) intervene or take part in a transaction exclusively under the authority of the Province of Cebu," she said.

She added that the congressman also has no business interest in Porta Coeli, as he is not a director, an officer or a stakeholder of the said company.

She also said the case is "politically motivated" and intended to "harass" Quisumbing.

Letaba confirmed he chose the "best timing"  — during election period — so the people will "know the real Luigi Quisumbing".

"It is also my obligation as a citizen and a taxpayer to let the people know," he said.

Letaba said this is not the first time he filed a complaint against a politician. In 2013, he charged then third district congressman Pablo John Garcia for irregularities in his SALN, and Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes for over a lifestyle check.

Both cases were still not decided as of yesterday.  (FREEMAN)

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