Former Tagbilaran City Mayor Dan Lim and 12 others will be facing criminal charges before the Sandiganbayan after the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the filing of a criminal complaint against themÂ in connection with almost P1 million unliquidated cash advances incurred during their term of office with the city government of Tagbilaran.
In a 30 page consolidated resolution approved, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on November 17, 2016, ordered the filing of criminalÂ informationÂ against the former Tagbilaran city mayor together also with former city councilor Danilo “Dandan” Bantugan and former City Legal Officer Handel Lagunay.
Included in the order were incumbent Barangay Captains Manolo Blanco of Mansasa, Nestor Mendez, Bool, Eutorgio Telmo of Booy, former Barangay CaptainsÂ GlorivicÂ Dela Serna, Poblacion ll and Timoteo Maglahus of Ubujan.
George Olario,Â former Consultant on Barangay Affairs, Agricultural Technologist MenirandaÂ Alcantara, Eucofronio Bayot, Supervising Administrative Officer, Catalino Castillo, retired public health nurse and former employee Manuela CunadoÂ were also included in the filing of the criminal information.
The 13 public officials allegedly incurred unliquidated cash advances as of March 31, 2011 in the amount of Php908,385.83 and failed to settle their accountabilities within the two month period prescribed by law and audit regulation.
Failure to render accounts
According to the Ombudsman Field Investigation Office represented by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer (GIPO) Ana Maria Paz Banaag that there was probable cause to indict the thirteen respondents for violation of article 218 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Lim and LagunayÂ did not submit any answer to the accusations against them and still had unliquidated cash advances when the complaint was filed in the amount of PhP100,000.00 and PhP9,716.00 respectively.
Bantugan claimed that he made arrangements that his honorarium as consultant be deducted to settle his accountabilities amounting to PhP114,762.00. But the logbook which will support his claim is no longer available since the Tagbilaran City Hall was damaged by the October 15, 2013 earthquake.
Bantugan was the only member among the nine Sangguniang Panlunsod members that failed to liquidate cash advances issued to them.
Vice Mayor Antonio Veloso, Mariquit Oppus, Zenaido Rama, Lucio Balbin, Leonides Borja, Nerio Zamor ll, the late Oscar Glovasa and Frances Marnelli Abellana were cleared by the Ombudsman after they have proven that all their accountabilities were settled and fully liquidated.Â
Olario,Â a former Barangay Captain of Poblacion 1 and was appointed consultant on barangay affairs after his term was also indicted since he still had PhP12,169.00 balance of his PhP62,565.00 unliquidated cash advance.
Olario alleged that he lost the documents to liquidate his cash advance and made arrangements to deduct the amount from his honorarium. But his receivables were not sufficient to cover the whole amount and requested at least six months to settle the balance, according to the Ombudsman.
Unliquidated cash advances of incumbent Barangay Captains Nestor Mendez of Bool – PhP265,000.00, Eutorgio Telmo, Jr. – PhP12,406.50, Manolo Blanco of Mansasa – PhP2,372.00 were also violations of article 218 of the RPC, according to the Ombudsman.
Also former Barangay Captains of Poblacion ll Glorivic Dela Serna – PhP300,000.00 and Timoteo Maglahus of Ubujan – PhP1,002.83 were also included in the indictments.
The Ombudsman also found substantial evidence that Handel Lagunay, Olario, Blanco Mendez, Maglahus Dela Serna and Telmo, Jr. committed simple neglect of duty and were meted the penalty of suspension for six months without pay.
Prominent officials of the Lim administration who were exonerated by the Ombudsman were Executive Assistant Mark Monton, Rosemarie Palma, Kurt Bungabong, Pianicita Castolo, former Vice Mayor Nuevas Montes, Mario Lloyd Gutierrez, Arlene Karaan, Eduardo Macalandag, Doni Piquero, Antonio Porticos, Walter Toston, Albert Yap and Wellington Pilongo.
Even former officials of Tagbilaran City that included former Mayor and the late Rolando Butalid and former city councilor Uriel Leopando were not spared by the requirements of accountability of public funds.
Uriel Leopando cited old age as he was 94 years old when the complaint was filed for signing checks amounting to P20,335.00 in 1983 for the repair of the car of then Mayor Jose Rocha and the purchase of hospital medicines.
Butalid’s unliquidated cash advances were incurred during his tenure as mayor of Tagbilaran in 1975.
The accusations of Butalid and Leopando were dismissed on the grounds of the 10 year prescription period for offenses under article 90 of the RPC.
Article 218 of the Revised Penal Code states that any public officer, whether in the service or separated shall render account to the auditor for a period of two months. Failure to do so shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum period or by a fine ranging from 200 to 6,000 pesos or both.Â
The respondents were the subject of a complaint for violations of the Revised Penal Code, Government Auditing Code of the Philippines and the Local Government Code.Â (Chito M. Visarra)