Swiftly acting on a tip-off of an impending warrant for her arrest, Panglao municipal councilor Rogelin Degoma “voluntary surrendered” before the Regional Trial Court of Bohol Branch 4 and put up a cash bond of P48,000.00 for her temporary liberty. on November 21, 2018.
Vice Executive Judge, Regional Trial Court of Bohol Sisino C. Virtudazo found the cash bond sufficient and ordered any law enforcement officer to desist from arresting Degoma.
An order signed by Virtudazo on November 21, 2018, for and in the absence of the Executive Judge stated that Degoma ”voluntarily surrendered before this court after knowing that an information has been filed against her.” The prosecution recommended a bail of P48,000.00 for her temporary liberty.
Degoma was accused by Associate Provincial Prosecutor Nilda P. Villatima of estafa for “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defrauding Ma. Luz Dumaluan, Reichyl Dumaluan Vallente, and Reichson Dumaluan.
A lucrative partnership involving the first 7-11 Convenience Store franchise in Bohol located at the Arcom Center in Barangay Poblacion, Panglao is now mired in fraud and deceit as gleaned from a 15-page joint resolution penned by Villatima.
PERSONAL AND POLITICAL ALLIES
The Dumaluans and Degoma known in the community for their close personal and political ties decided to embark on a business venture as franchise partners to acquire the first 7-11 franchise in the province.
Ma. Luz Dumaluan, Reichyl and Reichson is the wife, daughter and son of former Panglao Mayor Doloreich Dumaluan.
According to the complaint filed by the Dumaluans, a one-time initial franchise fee of P4,243,761.23 was given and received by Degoma after they were assured that as the capitalist in the partnership, she will take full responsibility for all documentary requirements and manage the convenience store as an industrial partner.
An industrial partner is defined as a business associate who offers their expertise as an investment instead of money in the case of Degoma, possessed with a high level of trust and confidence with the Dumaluans.
A month after the opening of the 7-11 in Panglao, the first indication of deceit was detected by the Dumaluans when the ownership of the business entity carrying the 7-11 franchise was registered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as a sole proprietorship with the business name “D & D Convenience Shoppe” under Degoma’s name.
Both parties agreed that the business name will be registered as “Dumalauan & Degoma Convenience Shoppe.”
Claiming that it was convenient to register the business under her name and assured by the basic stipulations appearing in the Memorandum of Agreement, the Dumaluans passed off the glaring oversight as a gesture of their friendship towards Degoma.
As agreed, the Dumaluans will receive a 10% return on investment (ROI) based on the monthly net income and 60% share of the remaining monthly net income balance after deducting the ROI and the 40% goes to Degoma.
Two months into the operation of the business, the Dumaluans received their first ROI and share of the income of the convenience store but Degoma failed to furnish them with reports as the basis for the amount of the remittance.
Degoma also informed the Dumaluans upon their inquiry that Philippine Seven releases the store’s monthly income through a simple payout to Banco de Oro (BDO).
This time, the Dumaluans demanded that Degoma open a joint account as previously agreed which the monthly income payout shall be deposited.
After several months, with the failure of Degoma to furnish them with the required financial reports, the Dumaluan started raising serious doubts on the management of their business venture even as they learned that she was using her personal account with the Bank of the Philippine Island (BPI) as the conduit of the releases of Philippine Seven instead of her previous statement that the monthly payout was through BDO.
Their relationship began to deteriorate after Degoma told the Dumaluans that Philippine Seven office in Cebu converted the franchise income share for the first three months of operation under the management of 7-11 into the store stocks inventory.
The Dumaluans were stunned when they found that the financial report printouts of the store’s sales and expenditures provided by Degoma were not generated by the computer system of Philippine Seven.
A complaint was filed by the Dumaluans after Degoma turned down several requests for the password to access the financial data through the online information portal system of Philippine Seven and the discovery of more discrepancies in her financial reports bordering on fabrication.
During their confrontation, Degoma finally acknowledged Dumaluan’s share when it was still under the management of 7-11 for the first three months of operation and issued a postdated check for its payment.
After a meticulous examination of all the records provided by Degoma, the Dumaluans confirmed that these were manufactured/fabricated and were not generated by the computer program/system of 7-11.
In sum, the Dumaluans alleged in their complaint that Degoma maliciously and deliberately misapplied, misappropriated and converted for her personal use their return of investments (ROI) and 60% share of the monthly income to the tune of P1,153,84.43.
Associate Prosecutor Villatima noted that Degoma’s response to the Dumaluans allegation was an “antipodal” version or diametrically opposite of the facts claiming that there was no agreement for a partnership and denied that she was hired as a store manager and was served her walking papers as manager.
Degoma further “counter-alleged” that she has religiously and faithfully complied with the agreed ROI but as interest payment for the Dumaluans capital contribution.
She also flatly denied that she concealed or falsified financial statements since these were all based on computer-generated financial statements from Philippine Seven even as she also could not provide the password to the Dumaluans in compliance with the confidentiality clause of the agreement.
ONLY CIVIL LIABILITY
According to Degoma, the minor discrepancies in the amount received by the Dumaluans for their ROI and share in the monthly profits constitute “only civil liability” and can be rectified at the close of the accounting period.
Villatima found probable cause to charge Degoma with two counts for the crime of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) and one count of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2 (a).
Another count for estafa under Article 315 paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for deceit and another two counts for estafa under Article 315 paragraph 1 (b) for misappropriation.
The other charges of estafa were found by the prosecutor as premature but pointed out the issuance of Degoma of a check to pay her obligation to the Dumaluans is an implied admission of guilt that she misappropriated the money.
The information for estafa against Degoma was approved by Macario I. Delusa, Provincial Prosecutor of Bohol on October 10, 2018. (Chito M. Visarra)