Loay Mayor Rosemarie Imboy and two other municipal officials have been criminally and administratively charged with the Ombudsman-Visayas for alleged anomalous distribution of earthquake Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) Fund.
Allocated from the national government, the aid at P10,000 for each beneficiary were given by the municipal local government unit (LGU) to â€œfake, unknown, non-qualified or ineligibleâ€ recipients, according to a verified complaint.
The complaint, in a form of a joint affidavit, was filed by captain Primo Espiritu and four others of barangay Poblacion Ubos, Loay which homeless earthquake victims should have been the financial assistance beneficiaries.
Asked to comment on the case, Imboy who is running for governor in May polls said it’s obviously politically motivated aimed to discredit her name now that the campaign period is forthcoming. “It is part of a demolition job against her,” Imboy stressed citing that this is the same thing that happened to her gubernatorial bet, former Mayor Che delos Reyes when the latter run for governor in 2013.
“They want to me to be branded like them as having a case before the Ombudsman,” referring to Rep. Rene Relampagos whose brother-in-law is running for Loay mayor this election and to his opponent, Gov. Edgar Chatto
She recalled that last October, Gov. Chatto handed a check to be distributed to the quake victims. She recalled barangay officials of Poblacion Ubos wanted their names included while deleting other names. She refused the request and instead asked them to refer the matter to DSWD authorities present.
Imboy and her two co-respondents â€œmaliciously deletedâ€ the names of many disaster victims who should legitimately have received the aids and replaced them with â€œbogusâ€ beneficiaries not even residents of the barangay, the complaint said.
The lady mayorâ€™s co-accused are Engr. Ian Suyman, chairman of the Municipal Planning and Development Council and focal person of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Julia Chiong.
In so doing, Imboy, Suyman and Chiong â€œcaused undue injuryâ€ and committed â€œgrave injusticeâ€ to the â€œrealâ€ victims of the severe calamity and â€œlegitimateâ€ recipients of the government help, Espiritu and his fellow complainants said.
The other complainants are Edgar Allan Mission and Rogerio Ganzon, both Poblacion Ubos barangay council members, and residents Artemio Flores and Olegario Adorable.
Mission, Flores and Adorable are themselves earthquake victims as their houses were damaged during the epic disaster, but the LGU did not give them any aid from the ESA Fund.
The emergency financial help for shelter was allocated by the national government thru the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and, together with the province, turned over the fund to the municipal LGUs, including Loay, affected by the strong earthquake on October 15, 2013.
The original list of Poblacion Ubos beneficiaries who were â€œsurveyed, interviewed and qualifiedâ€ was replaced by the LGU by a new list already containing many questionable names of supposed victims.
The original list contained 85 beneficiaries, all certified residents of Poblacion Ubos, but the second list had names of fake recipients believed to be political leaders or supporters of the mayor, who is now running for Bohol governor in the opposition camp.
According to the complaint, the municipal LGU led by Imboy did not call the beneficiaries to attend and witness the turnover of the fund last year.
The release and distribution of the financial aids to the beneficiaries, including the many non-qualified, were done by the mayor and her co-respondents, the complaint said.
The complaint noted that the original list was prepared by Chiong, attested by Suyman and approved by Imboy until, surprisingly, the new list came out already prepared by Suyman with the social welfare office â€œonly validating and reviewingâ€ it.
The new list further included supposed beneficiaries who are â€œnot residents, single and with no houses at all, helpers or maids, and unknown.â€
In the barangay assembly in October last year, a resolution was passed â€œobjectingâ€ to the questionable list and even asking the mayor to â€œinterveneâ€ on behalf of the victims in Poblacion Ubos.
Separately, the legitimate beneficiaries whose names were delisted and replaced jointly wrote to the DSWD regional and municipal officials as well as Gov. Edgar Chatto.
They lamented over the acts of the incumbent town administration â€œfavor(ing) the interest of the few over the needs of the greater majority and public services (which) are available only to their supporters.â€
The complainants said they formally requested for certified true copies of documents related to the ESA Fund, full list of recipients, vouchers or payrolls of the P10,000 each received, and other support papers.
But the mayor and other concerned municipal officials, except for the social welfare officer, refused to receive the complainantsâ€™ request-letter despite its being personally handed to them.
The complaint received by the Ombudsman on January 28, 2016 accused the mayor and her co-respondents of violating Section 3(e) and (f) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 171(4) of the Revised Penal Code, and for grave misconduct, dishonesty, oppression and grave abuse of authority.
Finally, the complainants asked for the accused officialsâ€™ suspension and ultimate dismissal from service with accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding any public office.