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Corro cleared of admin raps

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Gregg M. Rubio (The Freeman) - November 29, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Court of Appeals has exonerated former Daanbantayan mayor Augusto Corro from all administrative charges against him in relation to the distribution of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) to typhoon Yolanda victims.

In the same decision dated October 30, 2019, the CA 18th Division has granted the petition for review of the May 25, 2017 Ombudsman decision dismissing the criminal and administrative complaint against Corro and Heidi Aplece, the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer.

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by former town councilor Renato Benatiro, a resident of Barangay Tapilon and now the civil security officer of the municipal government of Daanbantayan, before the Office of the Ombudsman against Corro and Aplece.

 

Benatiro claimed he was removed from the updated list of qualified beneficiaries of the ESA from the Department of Social Welfare and Development. This allegedly resulted in his disqualification from receiving P30,000 under the ESA Fund Guidelines.

In his counter-affidavit, Corro informed the Ombudsman that the municipality had suspended the ESA distribution in areas near the shoreline pending the technical determination of unsafe zone by the proper government authorities.

While the four criminal complaints and an administrative complaint were dismissed, the Ombudsman only found Corro and Aplece guilty of simple negligence and resulting to their suspension from government service for two months.

Benatiro and Corro both filed their separate motions for reconsideration and petition for review before the CA which found merit in Corro’s petition.

The court said when DSWD issued the ESA guidelines, the local government of Daanbantayan had not yet started distributing the financial assistance to the beneficiaries.

“It is only proper that Mayor Corro should follow the guidelines issued by the DSWD for the implementation of the ESA Project,” the court said.

In a letter dated June 3, 2015, then DSWD-7 director Mercedita Jabagat confirmed the need to update the list of beneficiaries in view of the newly-issued guidelines.

The court found no merit in Benatiro’s charges against Corro and Aplece for using the 40-meter No Build Zone Policy of the Office of the Presidential Assistance for Recovery and Rehabilitation (OPARR), instead of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan or the multi-hazard maps, as their basis for the reevaluation and reselection of beneficiaries.

Benatiro also failed to establish that the use of OPARR’s policy was purposely to exclude him and other alleged non-supporters from the final list of beneficiaries for political reasons only when he and others were included in the original list.

“Hence, based on the foregoing, the Court finds that Benatiro failed, as well, to establish that Mayor Corro was negligent in his duties as the then Mayor in distributing the ESA Fund. To the contrary, the Court observes that Mayor Corro merely exercised his sound discretion as the chief executive and gave proper attention to a task expected of him based on the spirit of the guidelines,” the decision read.

The decision was signed by CA executive justice Edgardo Delos Santos, and associate justices Marilyn Lagura-Yap and Alfredo Ampuan.

“I am very, very happy. I am vindicated. The truth prevails,” said Corro regarding the decision.

Corro said that all he did was to help the victims of super typhoon Yolanda but he was still sued.

“Grabe ang effort namo atong panahona. Pwerte nakong paninguha mahimutang ang tanan biktima. But anyway, I am now vindicated,” he said. /BRP (FREEMAN)

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