Capitol exec brushes off graft charges

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz brushed off the reported complaint filed by two residents against seven officials of the provincial government before the Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas for hiring 23 job order casual employees who are registered voters of Bacolod City.

Complaints for technical malversation of public funds and violation of the anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act were filed against Jonathan Buyco of Talisay City and Lilibeth Carballo of Escalante City, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz lll, Provincial Budget Officer Gemma Flores, Provincial Accountant Annabelle Magalona, acting Provincial Human Resource Officer Felomina Gozon, Provincial Treasurer Amy Grace Bolivar, and Merly Frio and Jade Miraflores, both of the HRO.

The charges were detailed in a joint complaint-affidavit subscribed before lawyers of Vaflor, Alimon & Associates Law Firm and dated January 21, 2022.

“Let us not talk about it. Wala pa man kaso, wala pa kaso so let us not even talk about it anymore,” Diaz told reporters Thursday.

Earlier, Diaz said the complaint is “political harassment” and people should not believe everything they hear.

He also said that the lawyers who prepared the affidavit-complaint are also the counsels in a case seeking to disqualify Alfredo (Albee) Benitez as mayoralty candidate of Bacolod in the May elections.

The complainants claimed that they attempted to seek employment with the provincial government but were allegedly told to secure an endorsement from an influential politician.

They further alleged that in October 2021, they learned that 23 residents who are registered voters of Bacolod City were hired and employed by the province as job order personnel.

They claimed that such appropriation for personal services in the annual budget is intended for employment for residents and taxpayers of the province.

The complainants that the hiring of the 23 Bacolod residents as JOs is intended to assist and aid the political promotion or campaign of then Provincial Consultant Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez, who is a mayoralty candidate for Bacolod City, since “they have the knowledge and ability in organize people especially in the field of politics.”

Diaz contended that there are no government guidelines that states that only residents of the province can seek employment with the provincial government.

He also cited that a big percent of the employees of Capitol are residents of Bacolod.

They are hired based on their qualifications, he added.

Diaz further said the 23 casuals were part of the emergency response team and have been utilized as contact tracers during the peak of COVID-19 last year.

They have also helped in bringing assistance from the Capitol to residents of the province severely affected by typhoon Odette.

On his part, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson vowed to uncover the mastermind behind the filing of charges against seven department head and employees of the provincial government, so they can establish if it is politically-motivated.