Pablo John asks Ombudsman Probe clean and green program
Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - March 13, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Congressional aspirant Pablo John Garcia has asked the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas to look into possible plunder of public funds committed by the officials of the city government of Toledo including Mayor John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña.

 

“Request for investigation into possible plunder of public funds ostensibly paid to job order (JO) employees in the highly questionable and irregular Clean and Green Program of the City of Toledo, Cebu,” read the request.

Both Garcia and Osmeña are running for a congressional seat for the 3rd District of Cebu.

Osmeña is on his second term as mayor of Toledo City.

Aside from Osmeña, other named officials are City Mayor’s Office Executive Assistant Justin Anthony De Jesus, officer-in-charge (OIC) of the City Budget Office Gethsemane Mahinay, OIC City Administrator Ferdinand Marquez, City Treasurer Leonardo Rivera, Jr., Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) Members Marjorie Perales and Atty. Leo Dolino, Liga ng mga Barangay President Ophelio Dolino and ex-officio SP member, and all other officials and employees responsible for the implementation of the Clean and Green Program.

Garcia, together with 21 out of 38 barangay captains of Toledo City, appeared before the Office of the Ombudsman at around 10 a.m. yesterday to lodge the request.

He claimed these job order employees who were paid at P350 per day are ghost employees.

He said the payroll would prove this as well as the sworn statement of the residents of Toledo City.

“As detailed and documented in my letter to the Ombudsman, the Clean and Green Program as implemented by a few officials of the city, employees are ghost employees in any of the three categories: fictitious persons; real persons whose names were listed as JO employees without their knowledge or consent; and real persons who knew that their names were listed as JO employees but who were not actually made to work and who either were not paid or were merely promised a small sum, with the officials pocketing the bulk of the salary,” he stated.

“Entire payrolls were filled with forged signatures that even seen with the naked eye are palpably signed by just one person,” Garcia, in a press conference said.

One of the JO employees listed was a seaman who is working abroad.

Garcia added they checked the list of official voters of Toledo City and found that “not one of them is a registered voter.”

Garcia admitted it is inevitable that the filing can be associated with a political motive but he clarified the facts mentioned in the request do not have political leadings as the same were based on documents including the Commission on Audit (COA) report.

It was only yesterday that they asked Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente to investigate the possible plunder over the alleged questionable implementation of a P210 million Clean and Green Program for 2018 because of the documents that have to be secured to support his request.

The P210 million was appropriated thru supplemental budgets in three tranches within six months.

On May 30, 2018, P70 million supplemental budget No. 2 was approved; on October 25, P60 million supplemental budget No. 7 was approved; and October 10, P80 million supplemental budget No. 8 was approved, all in 2018.

 With the budget approved, there should have been clear and unmistakable improvement in the hygiene and landscape of Toledo City.

But Garcia said in the last quarter of 2018, the garbage and sanitation situation reached “abhorrent levels” by uncollected garbage everywhere and the city’s sanitary landfill being operated as virtual open dumpsite.

Because of this, he said the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) had stepped in.

Meanwhile, Garcia asked the Office of the Ombudsman to stop the implementation of the Clean and Green Program for 2019 which is about to be implemented.

Pending investigation, he asked the Ombudsman to preventively suspend the named officials.

Garcia mentioned that in the annual audit report of Toledo City for 2017, the COA noted the “highly suspicious and irregular disbursement” of more than P100 million in public funds supposedly paid to so-called job order employees, whose existence, identities and actual work were in question.

Lawyer Inocencio dela Cerna, legal counsel of Osmeña, said the actuation of Garcia is politically motivated.

 “The complainant is obviously clutching at straws with the purpose merely of some sound bites to promote his campaign considering that it is election period. This only unmasks complainant’s desperation considering that he is lagging far behind Mayor Sonny Osmeña in the congressional race for the third district,” he stated.

Dela Cerna added the COA report mentioned is not yet final as there are remedies available to the local government in such cases. — MBG (FREEMAN)

PABLO JOHN GARCIA
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