A municipal councilor of Panglao is charged with five counts of estafa for allegedly cheating her investor of money from the income of a convenience store business.
Panglao Municipal Councilor Rogelin Clemeña-Degoma is also facing possible sanctions as a public official which could range from suspension to dismissal from her position, as the investor also filed an administrative complaint against her for dishonesty and for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Bohol.
The criminal complaint for 5-counts of estafa against Degoma was filed by businesswoman Maria Luz Dejan-Dumaluan, Reichyl Dumaluan-Vallente and Reichson Dumaluan, on August 15, 2018 at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
In their complaint, the Dumaluans alleged that Degoma enticed them to invest in a 7-Eleven convenience store franchise and offered to manage the business on their behalf as an industrial partner.
Degoma’s assurances and close personal relationship with the Dumaluans induced the latter to invest a total amount of P4,243,761.23 for the full-capitalization and acquisition of the franchise for the 7-Eleven store in Poblacion, Panglao.
The complainants (Dumaluans) said that after they entrusted to Degoma said amount of money, they would later discover that Degoma established a sole proprietorship that will carry the 7-Eleven franchise which she registered under her name as the business owner instead of forming a partnership type of business entity, with the Dumaluans as her investing partners.
The complainants allegedly tried to remedy their “disadvantaged position” by asking Degoma to execute a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with them to clarify their ownership of the business and the stipulations for them to get a 10% return on investment and a 60% share of the monthly net income of the convenience store.
But despite having executed the MOA, Degoma would not render to complainants an accounting of the store’s sales or a liquidation of expenses.
According to the complainants, they would also discover later on that Degoma “fabricated” financial statements and “concealed” to them the password of the store’s financial records which they would have accessed through the 7-Eleven online information portal, so that Degoma could allegedly cheat them of their monthly 10% return on investment (ROI) and 60% share of the store’s income.
The complainants said they tried to demand from Degoma a proper accounting of the sales and liquidation of expenses but the latter would ignore their requests.
According to the complainants, Degoma would also purposely give them wrong codes or passwords of the store’s financial records stored through the 7-Eleven online portal system so that they would not be able to audit the store’s sales and expenses.
The Dumaluans said in their complaint that they were constrained to seek assistance from the Cebu Regional Office of Philippine Seven Corporation, the franchisor of 7-Eleven stores, where they obtained from the company’s finance department the “correct” financial statements of their 7-Eleven store in Poblacion, Panglao.
From the financial statements provided by the Cebu Office, complainants supposedly confirmed that Degoma had been cheating on them out of their ROI and 60% share.
The Dumaluans allegedly tried to arrange meetings with Degoma to settle the matter, but they said Degoma would evade them.
Degoma would then fail to remit to complainants their subsequent monthly ROI and 60% share which eventually forced them to file the criminal case against her for estafa, after Degoma ignored several verbal and written demands.
Aside from the criminal case, complainant Maria Luz Dumaluan also filed on Thursday the administrative complaint for dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service against Degoma.
In her complaint, Dumaluan said that a government official, such as Degoma who is a municipal councilor, can be administratively sanctioned for her acts of cheating and defrauding her, because even though said acts arise from private transactions, it affects her “right to continue in office”.
Citing a Supreme Court decision involving a public official criminally charged with estafa and with the accompanying administrative offense of dishonesty, Dumaluan stated in her complaint, that, “[i]f a government official or employee is dishonest, even though [her acts of dishonesty] is not connected with her office, it affects her right to continue in office. The government cannot tolerate in its service a dishonest official, [xxx] because by reason of her government position, she is given more and ample opportunity to commit acts of dishonesty against anyone, even against offices and entities of the government other than the office where she is employed; and by reason of her office, she enjoys and possesses a certain influence and power which renders the victims of her dishonesty and misconduct less disposed and prepared to resist and to counteract her evil acts and actuations.”
Degoma, who was interviewed by Chronicle reporter Rey Tutas said: “I still have to see the complaint. I was informed by the SP staff that the administrative complaint was referred to the committee. I welcome the filing of both the criminal and administrative complaints so I could answer all these accusations against me.”
According to Degoma, she has paid all that she owes to the Dumaluans including interests but intimated to the Chronicle that these complaints might be a form of harassment for her perceived refusal to agree to several requests by former Mayor Doloreich Dumaluan for alleged political accommodations to get back at his political opponents.
Degoma, who ran under the party of Dumaluan in the last election believes that the complaints against her do not constitute the crime of estafa but a mere business misunderstanding.
Although the former mayor is not a party to the case, complainants are his wife, son, and daughter.
The SP referred the complaint to the Committee on Good Government headed by 1st District Board Member Atty. Abeleon Damalerio with 2nd District BM Atty Abapo as vice-chair and 3rd District BM Elpidio Jala as member.