Philippine Councilors League (PCL) Bohol president ex-officio Provincial Board Member Jescelo Adiong admitted that he ordered the distribution of P3,000 each to hundreds of councilors who attended the organization’s year-end assessment activity which cost P6,500 per attendee but denied that it was in any way corruption contrary to an allegation raised by a member of the group.
According to Adiong, the P3,000 of the P6,500 registration fee was intended to pay for the councilors’ overnight accommodation at the Bohol Tropics Resort in Tagbilaran City for the planned two-day event held supposedly from December 10 to 11.
The amount was given to the councilors when the activity was cut a day short due to the unavailability of speakers from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which held its regional Christmas party in Cebu City on the second day of the PCL event.
Adiong in an interview with the media on Friday last week said it was up to the councilors, particularly those who had to travel far from towns to Tagbilaran, to either use the amount to pay for other expenses such as transportation or return the money to their respective local government units which paid for the P6,500 registration fee.
“Akong gipang-uli nila na tag-P3000 para sila na ang mo uli sa ilang tagsa-tagsa ka lunsgod og hilanglan ba e-uli pero wa ko mo-ingon na kinahilanglan na e-uli ninyo ang P3,000,” Adiong said. “Naa ra na nila og pila ilang e-uli, og gusto sila mo uli.”
Adiong also noted that the PCL only decided to return the excess amount to the councilors after the organization’s leadership decided to cut the activity short during the event itself, which was contrary to the allegation raised by Jagna Councilor Tonton Aniscal.
Aniscal who exposed the alleged corruption last week said that fellow Jagna Councilor Maricris Jamora, back in November, had already urged municipal legislators of the town to attend the year-end gathering as they were to get “large rebates,” which he later thought to have been the P3,000 given during the PCL event.
Jamora who is the PCL’s secretary general was the one who distributed the money to Jagna councilors, Aniscal said.
Ansical had argued that the money should not have been given to councilors as it should have been directly returned to the LGUs, alleging that up to P1.5 million in LGU funds ended up in councilors’ pockets.
“Imagine 482 mi tanan ka konsehal sa Bohol apil ang SK ug ABC ana. Og mi abot pa tanan, og ngana man gani puy gibuhat na gihatagan sila, P1.5 million na kwarta na sa katawhan. Laliman ka, harap-harapang tulis na,” said Aniscal who returned the P3,000 in its entirety to the Jagna Treasurer’s Office.
“Sa akong tan-aw pure corruption na. Kwarta gud na sa katawahan,” he added.
According to Adiong, councilors also have leave credits which may be used at the end of their respective terms to cover cash advances.
Adiong, confident that there was no corruption involved in the distribution of the amount, said that he will personally request the Commission on Audit to look into the issue to prove that there was no anomaly or “misuse of funds.”
“Ako mismo karon gagama nako og letter of request for COA audit, kay ang COA way pre-audit so post audit na ni,” he said.
Adiong said that he can show proof that the PCL asked for permission from the DILG to cut the activity short due to lack of resource speakers.
The PCL also notified the Bohol Tropics management that they had to cancel their reservation for the second day, but they were able to make the last-minute cancellation without any penalties allowing the group to give the excess payments from the registration fee to the councilors, he added.
No bad blood
Adiong meanwhile kept mum when asked by the local media if the issue was politically motivated but said that the allegation may have been an offshoot of a local dispute among councilors in Jagna.
He was referring to the issue of intense rivalry among legislators in the town, particularly the incident involving Jagna Councilor Arnoldo Peilago who was caught on closed-circuit television camera as he punched Aniscal inside the town’s Sangguniang Bayan (SB) Hall in October.
“Kini mang gung Jagna na duna nay friction ning Sangguniang Bayan, nakadungog ko sa storya na kini si Konsehal Tonton nadapatan ni sa konsehal na lain maybe na da ni na [issue] sa ilang local friction,” he said.
Aniscal is part of the SB’s four-strong minority bloc, while Jamora, Peilago and the rest of the 10-member legislative body belong to the majority opposition.
Aniscal also earlier said that Jagna Mayor Joseph Rañola, who he is closely allied with, drew the ire of other councilors of the town after the chief executive noted weeks prior to the event that the registration for the PCL activity was excessive.
He said that some opposition councilors “heavily” denounced Rañola for his comment on the PCL registration fee during a session of the SB which was aired live over Facebook and covered by San Miguel Cable.
Adiong after lamenting that Aniscal should have faced the PCL personally instead of subjecting the group and its leaders to a “trial by publicity” expressed confidence that the issue will be resolved.
“Ni Konsehal Tonton Ansical, I have nothing against you. Wa koy bad blood nimo natinga lang ko na ni-abot ka ani pero siguro nakalitan lang ka, I also understand,” he said. (with R. Tutas)