Ombud starts probe on graft raps vs outgoing guv, mayor

Outgoing Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. (Right) and Mayor Ligaya Apura of Lemery town

By: Gerome Dalipe

THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas will proceed with the formal investigation on the graft charges against outgoing Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. and Mayor Ligaya Apura of Lemery town.

Sarah Jo Vergara, Ombudsman-Visayas’s acting director of the Case Records Evaluation, Monitoring, and Enforcement Bureau, informed former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada that his complaint has been submitted for preliminary investigation.

Mejorada’s complaint dated March 29, 2019, has been docketed as OMB-V-C-19-0158 and OMB-V-A-19-0191.

“These cases shall be assigned to an investigation officer who will act thereon accordingly,” read Vergara’s one-page letter dated April 24, 2019.

Docketing of a case means the anti-graft office finds the complaint to be sufficient in form and substance to warrant the conduct of a preliminary investigation.

“Anytime soon, the Ombudsman will direct Governor Defensor and Mayor Apura to file their counter-affidavits to my complaint.”

Mejorada sued Defensor and Apura on April 1, 2019, for alleged irregularities in the release of P1, 480,015 for the repair and rehabilitation of five barangay roads.

In his six-page complaint, Mejorada accused Defensor and Apura of the following:

  • violation of Article No. 220 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for technical malversation;
  • violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act;
  • falsification of public documents under Article No. 171 of the RPC;
  • grave misconduct;
  • serious dishonesty;
  • conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service

The case stemmed from the P1,480,015 released to the Lemery municipal government under Mayor Apura for the graveling, re-graveling, and rehabilitation” of five barangay roads.

The five recipient barangays and the corresponding funds are Layogbato – P280,347; San Diego – P265,684; Capiñahan – P256,128; Dapdapan – P478,584; and Marapal – P199,272.

Mejorada claimed that the funds were charged or drawn against the Capitol’s maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), particularly for the repair and maintenance of infrastructure assets of Iloilo province, under Supplemental Budget No. 3, which was approved on Nov 6, 2018.

He said the fund transfer is illegal because the fund was intended for provincial roads, not barangay road like the ones in Lemery.