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Ilocos Sur Governors Face Charges
« on: December 25, 2017, 07:51:06 PM »
Ombudsman files graft charges vs Ilocos Sur governors
04 July 2013, Press Release Ombudsman

OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the filing of graft charges against Ilocos Sur Governors Luis “Chavit” Singson (1998-2001) and Deogracias Victor Savellano (2001-2003) for the improper use of public funds amounting to more than P26M in 2001.

In a 31-page Resolution approved on July 3, 2013, Ombudsman Morales ordered that Singson and Savellano be indicted for three counts and two counts, respectively, of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) before the Sandiganbayan.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Estelita Cordero, chairperson of the Save Ilocos Sur Alliance (SISA) Foundation on the alleged unlawful release of a total of P26,060,500 by way of financial assistance to Multi-Line Food Processing International, Inc. (MFPII) during the respective terms of respondents as provincial governor.

Singson had entered into four (4) Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with MFPII dated 5 February 2001, 20 February 2001, 28 May 2001 and June 2001, for the release of financial assistance in the respective amounts of P9.18M, P4M, P3M and P8M to fund unspecified livelihood projects, for which checks were issued on 6 April 2001, 5 March 2001, 21 June 2001 and 24 July 2001, respectively. The latter check was issued by Savellano who by then had assumed office as provincial governor following the 2011 elections.

Savellano, meanwhile, entered into a MOA with MFPII on 27 December 2001 for the grant of financial assistance worth P1,880,500 to fund “livelihood production/payment of accounts payable,” and for which a check was issued the following day.

The financial assistance was sourced from the province’s share of the portion of the proceeds of excise tax earmarked under R.A. No. 7171 (An Act to Promote the Development of the Farmers in the Virginia Tobacco Producing Provinces).

The Resolution stated that Singson and Savellano acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence when they repeatedly entered into the MOAs and approved the successive release of public funds that gave unwarranted benefits to MFPII which was not qualified to receive such financial aid from government and whose purported projects were not subjected to the required inspection or audit (under the MOA) before the subsequent MOAs and fund releases were made.

It added that the grant of financial assistance contravened R.A. No. 7160 on unallowable disbursements to private interests, and Commission on Audit (COA) Circular No. 95-003 that regulates the extension of financial assistance to a non-government organization (NGO)/people’s organization (PO).

The Resolution found that “MFPII cannot be considered an NGO/PO as to warrant the grant of financial assistance from the government,” since MFPII appeared to be a private corporation organized for profit and not intended to advance the interest of a specific cause or sector, as shown by MFPII’s Articles of Incorporation.

It cited documents showing that “the funds were intended to be used in maintaining the operation of the plant – from the payment of its utilities and supplies down to the salary of its employees” which “plainly signifies that MFPII was not in a stable financial condition to sustain its operations, let alone implement a socio-economic or service-based project” for the benefit of tobacco farmers.

It also revealed that MFPII “ceased its operations barely four months after the last release of funds in its favor, ironically, due to lack of funds” or, as pointed out by complainant Cordero in MFPII’s termination letters to its employees, “the incapacity of the Southern Ilocos Sur Federation of Tobacco-Based Cooperatives to sustain management without the necessary funding from the provincial government.”

The complaint as against Arnulfo Abaya, Hernando Decena, Felipe Que, Danilo Etrata and Norman Mendoza, who are all members of MFPII’s Board of Directors, was dismissed for lack of any allegation or proof of conspiracy.

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