Cebu News

Two barangay officials to face 100 counts of falsification, graft

Michael Vencynth H. Braga - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - A barangay captain and treasurer of Lapu-Lapu City will be facing over a hundred counts of graft and falsification charges each for alleged irregularity in the disbursements of funds amounting to P1.7 million in 2015.

The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas found sufficient ground to hold Poblacion Barangay Captain Allen Dimataga and Barangay Treasurer Ethel Dela Serna for trial for alleged falsification and violation of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

“Respondents Dimataga and Dela Serna took advantage of their positions as Barangay Chairman and Barangay Treasurer, respectively. The offenses could not have been committed were it not for their official functions,” read part of the anti-graft office’s resolution.

Dimataga and Dela Serna will each face 92 counts of Falsification of Public Official documents and 21 counts of violation of section 3 (e) of RA 3019.

Under that provision of the law, public officials are prohibited from causing undue injury to any party or the government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.

The case stemmed from the letter of Shane Harvey Omolon against Dimataga alleging that documents were falsified to make it appear that various supplies were delivered to the barangay and to facilitate the issuance of checks in favor of the supposed suppliers.

Dimataga allegedly conspired with Dela Serna and Buenaventura Igot, the city accountant.

In the Audit Observation Memorandum of the Commission on Audit, it was mentioned that 21 barangay transactions, claims with seemingly falsified supporting documents were processed which resulted to the payment to suppliers in the total amount of P1, 738, 355.50.

In her counter-affidavit, Igot denied the allegations, saying that all the transactions involved are barangay transactions and all the documents were prepared and executed by the barangay alone. She said her name and signature did not even appear in any of the documents mentioned in the audit observation, thus, her inclusion in the complaint has no basis.

She added that with the number of documents passing her office each day, she is not expected to know or verify whether the signatures in the documents forwarded to her office are genuine.

As city accountant, Igot is mandated to issue an accountant’s advice on barangay check disbursements. On the advice, Igot affixed her signatures in support of the checks disbursed.

Igot said even if the signatures of the concerned barangay officials were forged, the act could not be attributed to her.

Dimataga and Dela Serna did not submit their counter-affidavit to controvert the allegation. The anti-graft office ruled in favor of Igot, saying that the complainant failed to show that Igot contributed to the commission of the offenses.

“The fact that she is the City Accountant and is presupposed to have over-all administration of the city’s coffers does not automatically make her liable. Clearly, the complaint against respondent Igot must necessarily be dismissed,” it said.  (FREEMAN)  

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