Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo yesterday said he did not steal any money from the coffers of government, and that his political opponents are behind the charges filed against him.
This case came out in the 2013 elections and has re-emerged again, he added.
Degamo said he is confident the charges against him will be dismissed, and he is certain he will win his re-election bid on May 9 as shown in a recent survey.
He claimed a survey shows him at 88 percent and his opponent is at 12 percent.
Degamo is being challenged for the governorship by Rep. George Arnaiz.
Degamo was responding to a report that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found probable cause to indict him of 11 counts of malversation through falsification and one count of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which was published in the DAILY STAR on April 13.
Degamo was cited for proceeding to award 11 infrastructure projects amounting to P143.2 million despite lack of funds. Also charged with him are provincial treasurer Danilo Mendez and provincial accountant Teodorico Reyes.
The charges stemmed from the illegal use of the calamity fund intended for the repair, rehabilitation and construction of structures damaged by typhoon Sendong in 2011 and the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in 2012, a statement from the Office of the Ombudsman said.
Upon the request of Degamo, the Department of Budget and Management issued a Special Allotment and Release Order, in the amount of P961.5 million, out of which P480.7 million was immediately released to the provincial government. However, a few days later, the DBM informed Degamo that the SARO was being withdrawn due to the failure of the province to comply with existing guidelines for infrastructure projects, the statement said.
“Despite the notice, Degamo, et. al. proceeded to award the infrastructure contracts amounting to P143.2 million, representing the 15 percent advance payment to contractors. Upon audit, the Commission on Audit issued 11 Notices of Disallowance, observing that funds were certified available despite the withdrawal of the SARO,” it added.
In finding probable cause, Ombudsman Morales reiterated that “their unilateral act of ignoring DBM's authority is indicative of bad faith, manifest partiality and/or gross inexcusable negligence which caused undue injury to the government.”
The complaint against Degamo was filed in 2012 by June Vincent Manuel Gaudan, of Purok Santan, Barangay Taclobo in Dumaguete City.
Degamo said the Ombudsman had cleared him of any administrative liabilities under the Aguinaldo Doctrine, because of his re-election as governor in 2013. But as far as the criminal liability is concerned, it recommended the filing of the case before the Sandiganbayan.
Degamo, Mendez and Reyes have filed a motion for reconsideration.*
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