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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, July 16, 2014
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Ombudsman dockets complaint
vs. Monico on SEA games fund
BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas has docketed the criminal complaint filed by Samuel Montoyo against former Bacolod Rep. and now Mayor Monico Puentevella on  the case involving the Bacolod Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee fund amounting to about P37.4 million, as OMB-V-C-14-0249.

A letter dated June 20 signed by Sarah Jo Vergara, OIC Central Records Management Office, in behalf of Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol, said the case will be assigned to an
Montoyo, convenor of the Save Bacolod Movement, filed the complaint against Puentevella as former chairman of the BASOC, for alleged violation of Articles 217, 218 and 220 of the Revised Penal Coded, and also under RA 3019 paragraph 3, with prayer for his preventive suspension from public office in relation to RA 6770.

In his complaint, Montoyo said that, in connection with the hosting of the SEA Games in Bacolod in November 2005, the Philippines Sports Commission issued in favor of BASOC and/or Puentevella four government checks coming from public funds in the total sum of P50.5 million.

He said Puentevella, without regard for the proper disposition of public funds, allegedly deposited all the government checks to his own personal and private account No. 1422-158630 at the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (Bacolod Shopping Branch).

COA DEMAND

The Commission on Audit had demanded twice for his accounting of the funds which he failed to comply with, or cannot completely account for, especially because he allegedly deposited all of it to his personal and private bank account, Montoyo said.

The second demand letter already contained the COA’s findings on how Puentevella misappropriated and/or malversed public funds of P50.5 million or the substantial portion of it which still runs in millions of pesos, he said.

Montoyo said the total amount of public funds allegedly misappropriated by Puentevella under Art.217 of the RPC is about P37,457,143.63 and if technical malversation as stated under Article 220 is considered, Puentevella committed such crime involving P1,979,897.50.

He said Puentevella had custody of the BASOC funds, because of his duties as chairman of BASOC while he was then congressman.

DIVERTED TO CEMETERY

Montoyo also  said Puentevella diverted the amount of P368,422.50 to the city public cemetery, although this was not allowed under the BASOC fund. According to COA, the sum of P1,486,350 under the item “volunteer’s honoraria” cannot be determined to which account it belongs, he said.

He also said Puentevella disbursed P125,125, not for the purpose for which it was applied, under the item “weightlifting facilities and lighting.”

Montoyo said Puentevella had committed a crime under Art. 218 of the RPC for his failure to render accounts.

Public expenses or disbursements which he cannot validly and legally support were simply covered by his personal check vouchers, Montoyo said.

Montoyo also said Puentevella committed the crime of technical malversation under Art. 220 of RPC whereby he, being a public official with custody of custody and administration of the BASOC fund, applied the public fund to expenses other than those for which it was intended.

NO RESPONSE TO COA

Moreover, two demands were made by COA to Puentevella to render his accounting of the BASOC funds since January 2009 to March 2009. Yet, until now, he has not complied, so that by all legal consequences, the COA  issued to him the findings on his liability for the amount involving malversarion and technical malversation by this year, the span now reaching five years, he said.

Montoyo said that under Art 218 of RPC Puentevella is only given a period of two months to render such accounting from the latest time, March 2009, thus his failure to do so makes him criminally liable.

He also said Puentevella cannot escape criminal liability under RA 3019 Par. 3 (e) for causing undue injury to the government in the discharge of his official function through his evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence, by depositing the BASOC funds to his personal and private bank account.

SUSPENSION SOUGHT

As such, the crimes/offenses of Puentevella constitute dishonesty, grave misconduct and/or neglect in the performance of duty, and as the charges would warrant removal from public service, he can then be put under preventive suspension under RA 6770, Montoyo said in his complaint.

Although Puentevella was yet congressman of Bacolod when he committed the offenses, however, by involving the doctrine of Bolastig vs Sandiganbayan (235 SCRA 103), he may be suspended from his present office as Bacolod Mayor, because such suspension is justified by the Bolastig Doctrine, Montoya added.

    Puentevella could not be reached for his comment as of press time last night.

    Asked his comment, former City Legal Officer  Joselito Bayatan yesterday said the Ombudsman has taken cognizance of the case because it partakes of the crime under the Revised Penal Code and of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

    “Again, we reiterate his moral obligation to explain  to the public  what he did with the millions of pesos, which according to the complaint, runs to P37 million or so that he malversed and failed to account for  the public,” he said.

    Bayatan added that Puentevella has both legal and moral obligation to account to the public for the P37 million BASOC funds that is the subject matter of the criminal complaint against him for malversation of public funds.*CGS

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