WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY
Because of his confusion over the two charges, Monico Puentevella asked that the case filed by Montoyo be dismissed because it is the same as the one initiated by Harry Angpin.
Aside from their spelling “plunder” is entirely different from “malversation and technical malversation.” If there is any similarity, it is that the accused in both cases cannot be granted bail, considering the millions of pesos involved.
The defense is that the case is already old can be used in the plunder case, although that is debatable, because there are intervening events. Anyway let the lawyers argue on that. On the other hand, the Montoyo case is new, so that I wonder how this defense can hold. Anyway that is better than no defense at all. Basi pa lang makalusot (Maybe it can scrape through).
But the most incredible, unbelievable defense that Puentevella raised is that Montoyo has not cited any law that says that Puentevella is accountable for the money the PSC gave him, and which he deposited in this personal bank account. Let us quote from his counter affidavit:
“In order for a charge of failure to render account under Art. 218 to prosper, the existence of a law or regulation that requires the public officer to render accounts must be clearly shown and established. The duty of the public officer to render account must come from a particular law or regulation duly promulgated by competent authority. Sheer allegation that the public officer failed to render account will not suffice to support the charge.
“Indeed, no such law or regulation required me to render account of P50.500,000 exists. Thus the charge of violation of Art 218 (failure to account) has no leg to stand on.”
Let me cite the Reply Affidavit of Montoyo to this defense.
“It is so ‘MORALLY SHOCKING’ to hear from respondent Puentevella who has been a congressman for three (3) consecutive terms from 2001 up to 2010 expressing how he is SO GROSSLY IGNORANT OF THE LAW ON PUBLIC FUNDS, THAT ACCORDING TO HIM, THERE IS NO LAW THAT REQUIRES HIM WHILE THEN IN CHARGE OF PUBLIC FUNDS (BASOC FUNDS) TO RENDER HIS ACCOUNTING THEREOF.”
Montoyo further said “Thus, respondent Puentevella did not entertain any scruples at all to deposit in this personal and private RCBC Bank Account all the P50.5 million public funds (BASOC Funds) because according to him there is no law or regulation that requires him to render an accounting of public funds. With this line of thinking of respondent Puentevella, he is therefore admitting beyond any reasonable doubt that he cannot anymore account for the herein total public funds for P39,437,041.13 composed of P37,457,143.63 (under Article 217) and P1,979,897.58 (under Article 220).
Before we proceed, let me explain why the amount is not P50.5 million which was the amount in the plunder case. This case is for malversation and technical malversation. The Montoyo case is based on the COA report wherein Puentevella submitted some liquidation receipts that were accepted and some that were rejected or unacceptable. Thus the total amount in the Montoyo case is less than P50.5 million. Thus, in some he did account, but in others he did not at all. Thus the case is for malversation and technical malversation.
If the Ombudsman accepted Puentevella’s incredible, ridiculous and morally bankrupt defense that there is no law or regulation that requires him to account for public funds given to him for the SEA Games, then the COA and the Office of the Ombudsman should be abolished. They would have no reason for being.
In fact, government employees can take whatever money is entrusted to them and put them in their pockets and not account for them. Imagine a bankrupted Philippines, the chaos, but nobody is corrupt!
Perhaps Puentevella thinks that the BASOC fund was like his pork barrel that he did not have to account for. Was he doing this all the years he was congressman?
I suspect that his view, his frame of mind that public funds entrusted to him are his to spend and not account for them, is probably the reason that he deposited the BASOC checks in his own bank account.
If he believes this, why did he submit liquidation report in the plunder case?
Will he take Bacolod’s money and not account as is this the reason he raised real estate taxes so there will be more money to take?
Will this view be similar to the recent P3 million intelligence fund intended for SP members for shortcutting approval of the tax ordinance? Let’s take this up later.*
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