Ombudsman asked to probe, suspend Mayor Oric Furigay PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 14:38

After having been suspended for three months —  from October 2009 to January 2010 — on a technical malversation complaint, Lamitan City Mayor Roderick Furigay is again facing another complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged alteration of the city’s 2012 budget.

In his complaint received by the Ombudsman Mindanao on Oct. 31, 2012, Lamitan Vice Mayor Arleigh Eisma, through his lawyer Rolando P. Quimbo, said that on December 19, 2011, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Lamitan City enacted Ordinance No. 2011-04 appropriating the sum of P312,076,000 as the budget of the city for the year 2012.

Eisma said this was based on the budget prepared and submitted by the Office of the City Mayor.

He said that a copy of the budget was later submitted by Mayor Furigay to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as required by law.

The vice mayor said that sometime in the middle of this year, he was informed by a city hall employee that there were alterations in the copy of the budget which was submitted by Mayor Furigay to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and that this copy of the budget was the basis of actual disbursements.

Eisma said after he was able to obtain a copy of the budget as submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, he noted the differences or alterations in certain items in the budget for the Office of the City Mayor:

“While the total budget amount of P312,076,000.00 remained the same in both copies of the budget, certain items were altered.. This enabled, as it wouid still enable respondent (Furigay)  to juggle the funds at his disposal. For instance, the amount of P5, 000,000 was supposedly disbursed in connection with the ARMMAA, a sports festival. Offhand, it is highly dubitable that such amount was fully given to the intended beneficiary,” Eisma stated in the complaint, where he also attached the object of expenditures, the amounte enacted by the City Council, the amount submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and their differences.

The vice mayor said he tried to secure copies of the corresponding documents which would show the actual disbursements made, but he was unable to do so since these documents are under the control and possession of Mayor Furigay or officials under him.

Similarly, he said, hetried to secure the statements of possible witnesses so that he could submit these along with this complaint, but he was unable to do since these possible witnesses are under the office of the mayor or they fear possible reprisals from him.

This was the reason why the vice mayor was unable to file this complaint earlier since he was trying to obtain records, but for which he was unable to do because these records are under the control of the respondent, said Atty. Quimbo.

Quimbo said the foregoing acts constitute grave misconduct, abuse of office and violations of other civil service and penal laws which should warrant the imposition of administrative sanctions and the filing of criminal charges in court.

“The aforesaid alterations can only lead to the commission of other irregularities which may constitute violations of penal laws, such as malversation and falsifications of records. Proofs for these are in the possession of the Office of the City Mayor. There is, therefore, an urgent need that pending further investigation relative to this complaint, respondent be preventively suspended if only to prevent possible tampering with the records or him exerting the influence of his position on possible witnesses who may otherwise be deterred from whistle-blowing,” Quimbo stated.

“Moreover, considering the forthcoming elections, there is the probability that disbursement would be made to enable respondent to take control of public funds for his re-eiection, if he has not in fact already done so. To preserve the funds and the records, there .is an urgent need to suspend the respondent,” Eisma’s legal counsel told theOmbudsman’s office.

In a similar development, Atty. Quimbo wrote the Commission on Audit through Chairperson Ma. Gracia M. Pulido-Tan asking the agency to form a special audit team to audit the records of Lamitan City in connection with the alleged alteration of the 2012 budget and for another complaint for technical malversation against Mayor Furigay regarding the alleged deduction from the salaries of Lamitan City employees, “Our client was furnished with another complaint for technical malversation filed on June 29, 2012 with the Office of the Ombudsman and an unsigned copy of a Special Power of Attorney authorizing the City Treasurer to deduct certain amounts from the salaries of employees.  According to our client, it is common knowledge at city hall that city employees had been coerced into signing such a document, but the amounts so deducted have not been given to them. He tried to secure copies of these affidavits from the notary but was unable to do so since the notary is identified with the Mayor. He is also apprehensive that the resident COA auditor may have been rather liberal in the application of auditing rules for the Mayor and other officers to do these things,” Quimbo told the COA chair.

“Mayor Furigay is already on his last term. If only for the probability that the pertinent records ....might be disposed of or otherwise tampered, and in order to uncover other irregularities which the Vice Mayor knows of but which he cannot presently substantiate for lack of records, may we request that a special audit team be constituted to audit the records of Lamitan City. Our client assures that once such a special auditor is designated a horde of witnesses would surface who could provide further details, as they had so committed to him,” Quimbo said in his letter to COA.

This reporter got hold of a copy of another complaint of technical malversation filed with the Ombudsman Mindanao against Mayor Furigay by a concerned citizen for allegedly spending Lamitan City funds to build a boat landing inside his (Furigay’s) property .

The boat landing project was part of a program of the Growth Equity Mindanao (GEM).

Furigay’s suspension stemmed from complaint filed by an anonymous person for alleged violation of Section 3E of Republic Act 3019 or “giving undue advantage” when he (Furigay) hired the expertise of former Isabela City Mayor Oswaldo Pioquinto to review the more than 30 years old Revenue Tax Code of Lamitan.

The amount of P19, 500 was paid by the Lamitan local government to Pioquinto. — NS