March 24th, 2012
Leyte Samar Daily Express
TACLOBAN CITY- At least three council members of Caibiran town in Biliran were charged of a criminal offense before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas by another council member of the same town.
Charged for malversation of public funds and dishonesty in the government service were Councilors Marilyn Jaboco, Edwin Pantas and Gerry Colantro.
The complaint against the three local officials was filed by Councilor Rommel Berdal before the anti-graft court based this city on March 16 this year.
In his two-page complaint-affidavit, Berdal claimed that his colleagues processed and submitted their liquidation papers though they reportedly did not attend a seminar held in Pasay City on September 5 to 7, 2011.
For attending the 18th annual congress of the Women Involved in Nation-Building (WIN) which was held at the Heritage Hotel, each councilors were given an allowance of P19, 720 covering their daily and transport allowances, and air fares.
All were issued a travel order by Mayor Eulalio Maderazo on September 2, 2011.
“(But) I was surprised to know when the aforementioned councilors had submitted their liquidation documents for I know for a fact that they did not register and attend the annual congress,” Berdal said in his complaint-affidavit.
“The acts of (Councilors) Marilyn Jaboco, Edwin Pantas and Gerry Colantro by making it appear that they have registered and attended the 18th annual congress using public funds in submitting spurious documents for liquidation constituted unlawful acts of malversation and dishonesty in the government service which would warrant the filing of the criminal charges…” Berdal added.
Berdal, in a phone interview, claimed that the three produced fake documents like certificates of appearance and plane tickets in processing their liquidation papers.
He also said that he got hold of a copy of the list of those who attended the seminar from its organizers and not one of them appeared in the list.
“What they did was a clear violation of the “matuwid na landas” policy of the President. What they did was a clear case of defrauding the government of its fund,” Berdal, who is serving on his first term as councilor of Caibiran, said.
He also sought before the anti-graft court to suspend the three “to prevent them from exerting any influence on witnesses and documentary pieces of evidence pending investigation.”
One of the councilors facing the charge, Colantro, said that the complaint was politically motivated.
“It’s nothing but a prelude to the 2013 elections. But we will answer the complaint filed against us,” Colantro, reached on his phone, said.
He said that they have yet to receive a copy of the complaint.
Colantro is on his first term as councilor while Pantas is on his third and last term and Jaboco is serving on her second term as councilor of Caibiran, 15 kms away from the provincial capital of Naval.
Berdal belong to the Nationalista Party while the three councilors are with Lakas-Kampi.
By Joey A. Gabieta
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