Arrest warrants, travel bans issued against Bohol officials
BOHOL, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan First and Seventh Divisions issued arrest warrants and hold-departure orders against several officials in Bohol, including two former vice-governors and the incumbent governor, in relation to their approval of two resolutions in 2006 and 2009 authorizing the late governor Erico B. Aumentado to purchase heavy equipment units worth P157 million using letters of credit (LC).
The following were banned from traveling abroad and issued arrest warrants:
- Vice Governor Dionisio Balite
- former Vice Governor Julius Caesar Herrera
- former Vice Governor Concepcion Lim
- Cesar Tomas Mozo Lopez
- Amalia Reyes Tirol
- Ester Corazon Jamisola Galbreath
- Alfonso Rafols Damalerio II
- Ma. Fe Camacho-Lejos
- Josil Estur Trabajo
- Aster Apalisok-Piollo
- Brigido Zapanta Imboy
- Jane Censoria Del Rosario Cajes-Yap
- Jose Echavia Veloso
- Godofreda Olavides Tirol
- Frances Bobbith Del Rosario Cajes-Auza
- Felix Realista Uy.
Also included in the arrest warrant and travel ban order were the following:
- Handel Tumulak Lagunay, former provincial legal officer
- Edwin Tutor Vallejos, Bids and Awards Committee vice-chairman and former provincial general services officer
- Abraham Doria Clarin
- Greta Aya-ay Mende
- Laura Saramosing-Boloyos
- Felix Mascariñas Mejorada.
In March 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman suspended those still holding office for 9 months without pay. The respondents who had retired or were no longer elected into office, meanwhile, were fined in an amount equivalent to the respondents’ salary for 6 months.
By signing a resolution as requested by ex-governor Aumentado, the anti-graft body said they violated the “prohibition of the use of letters of credit in favor of a Philippine entity or its foreign supplier has tarnished the efficiency, integrity and credibility of their (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) offices.”
Following the suspension order issued by the Ombudsman, the case was then elevated to the Sandiganbayan.
Each respondent was recommended to pay P30,000 for their release from detention.
In the two criminal cases, the Sandigabayan directed the Bureau of Immigration to “hold the departure” of the accused officials and that they are “barred from leaving the country except upon prior approval from this Court (Sandiganbayan).”
On July 10, 2006 the provincial board passed Resolution No. 2006-387 which authorized Aumentado to open a letter of credit (LC) with the Philippine National Bank (PNB-Cebu City Branch) to purchase of backhoe worth P9,410,560.
The said resolution also authorized the PNB “to debit all charges incidental to the opening and negotiation of the LC against the account of the province with the said bank.”
The Ombudsman held accountable the respondent officials for passing Resolution No. 2006-387 authorizing Aumentado to open an LC with the PNB “despite the fact that the delivery of the backhoe has not been made by CMI (supplier) and for authorizing PNB to debit the LC opening and negotiation charges in the amount of P74,498.15 from the account of the province of Bohol.”
The 2009 purchase
On January 5, 2009, Clarin and Vallejos, under the authority of Aumentado, issued Purchase Request No. 001 for the acquisition of 26 heavy equipment units worth at least P147.5 million.
CMI, RDAK Transport, Pasajero Motors Corp, and JVF, Isuzu Cebu Inc. were the winning bidders.
On April 28, 2009 the provincial board passed Resolution No. 2009-226 which authorized Aumentado to open an LC with the Land Bank of the Philippines in the amount of P147,500,000 for the heavy equipment purchase.
In a resolution, the Ombudsman found out that “all of the heavy equipment supplied by CMI, RDAK and JVF are paid even prior to the delivery of the equipment.”
In a memorandum dated January 7, 2010, the Commission on Audit (COA) pointed out that using letters of credit to purchase heavy equipment had violated Section 42.5 of the IRR of RA 9184 and “had placed the government at a disadvantage.”
Meanwhile, the respondents told the Ombudsman in their sworn statement that they were not directly involved in Aumentado’s heavy equipment transaction.
The respondents said they were “only acting in good faith and on a ministerial capacity when they signed the resolutions requested by Aumentado.”
Aumentado died on December 25, 2012, freeing him from legal liabilities concerning the 2006 and 2009 heavy equipment purchases. – Rappler.com