Finding no reason to depart from its previous pronouncements, the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas denied the motions filed by former Bacolod Mayor Luzviminda Valdez and seven other city officials in a criminal complaint filed by the Commission on Audit Regional Office against them.
The criminal complaint for Malversation of Public Funds through Falsification of Public Documents involved the alteration made on a receipt to claim reimbursement.
Included in the case filed by COA VI are former Executive Assistant Susan Robles, former Secretary to the Mayor Brendo Elegio, former City Accountant Pioquito Quiñones, former Executive Assistant Renato Rojo, acting Management Service Office head Ricardo Dahildahil Jr., former City Administrator Andrea Si, Assistant City Treasurer Lilia Ursos, City Budget Officer Luzviminda Treyes, former City Treasurer Florentino Guanco, and Cooperative and Livelihood Development Officer project officer Leo Villanueva.
Earlier, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Jane Aguilar, in her resolution dated March 23, 2007, recommended the dismissal of the charges filed against Guanco for insufficiency of evidence.
Meanwhile, Aguilar, in her latest order dated Feb. 28, 2008, said respondents Valdez, Elegio, Treyes, Robles, Rojo, Villanueva, Ursos, Quiñones, asserted in their motions that there was no proof of conspiracy, hence they should be adjudged on the basis of their own individual act without regard to those of the others.
However, she said “We find the motions bereft of merit. As already discussed in the assailed Resolution, the whole transaction itself is spurious.”
Aguilar said that aside from the tampered cash slip, the other documents attached to the disbursement voucher, such as the request for quotation and the attendance sheets are also suspect.
And despite the obvious discrepancies in the supporting documents, all the respondents still processed the voucher and facilitated the payment, she said.
Aguilar said conspiracy need not be proved by direct evidence of the acts charged.
She said this case presents a conspiracy of silence and inaction where public officials who should have been vigilant to protect the interest of the government, accepted as gospel truth the certifications of the other officials or employees; and approved without question the transaction.
Likewise, Aguilar said, the transaction involved is for a “reimbursement” –meaning, when the Allotment and Obligation Slip was prepared and signed by Treyes, the supporting documents were already attached and available for her scrutiny and examination, and despite the obvious discrepancies, she still affixed her signature on them.
She said respondents did not introduce new evidence that could adversely affect their previous findings.
The order was reviewed by Assistant Ombudsman-Visayas Virginia Palanca-Santiago and approved by Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol.
Valdez and other respondents could not be reached for their comment as of press time last night.*CGS