Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has found suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and five other provincial officials of Cebu guilty of grave misconduct in line with the irregular acquisition of the Balili Estate in 2008.
Aside from Garcia, also found guilty of grave misconduct were Sangguniang Panlalawigan Board Member Juan Bolo, Anthony Sususco, Roy Salubre, and Eulogio Pelayre, all of the Provincial Appraisal Committee; and provincial Budget officer Emme Gingoyon.
In a 26-page joint decision signed on Jan. 25, 2013, Morales said the administrative liability of Garcia and Bolo "has been mooted by their reelection in the 2010 national and local elections" while Sususco, Salubre, Pelayre and Gingoyon were meted the penalty of dismissal from the service, together with its accessory penalties.
The case arose from three separate complaints filed by the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas' Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office, Manuel Manuel and Crisologo Saavedra in line with the irregular purchase by the Cebu provincial government of the Balili estate consisting of 11 parcels of land with a total area of 249,246 sq. m. for an aggregate amount of P99,698,400, of which P98,926,800 has already been paid.
The purchase was made possible through a memorandum of agreement signed by Garcia for the acquisition of the Balili Estate in Tina-an, Naga, Cebu, at P400 per sq. m.
The Ombudsman ruling said the transaction was tainted with irregularities as the provincial government at that time had no available funds specifically appropriated for the purpose of "providing a good opportunity for the province of Cebu to develop and cater to the needs of interested investors."
It said 50 percent of the total payment made by the provincial government "actually came from the [P50M] budget of the province, not specifically earmarked for that purpose, but for Site Development and Housing Program under Social Services."
It also noted that of the 11 parcels of land, "about 196,696 square meters of the total area of 249,246 square meters is submerged in seawater", hence, it cannot be used for the intended purpose of developing an international seaport and attract investors nor even for site development or housing.
“The use of funds for a purpose other than the specific purpose for which the fund was appropriated is per se illegal", it added.
Meanwhile, the administrative case against Mariflor Vero, Michelle Languido, Roger Dumayac, and Pilar Yburan, all of the Technical Working Group; and SP members Victor Maambong, Julian Daan, Wilfredo Caminero, Peter John Calderon, Joven Mondigo Jr., Teresita Celes, Rosemarie Durano, Wenceslao Gakit, Alfred Francis Ouano and Bea Mercede Calderon, was dismissed.*
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