Puerto Galera execs face another malversation raps, mayor cries foul
POSTED: Thursday, June 26th, 2014
CALAPAN CITY – After being sued last March over questionable collection fees, the chief executive and the whole municipal council of the tourist town of Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro province are facing another set of charges in the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged misuse of public funds.
But Puerto Galera Mayor Hubbert Christopher Dolor, who was also sued by a group of local businessmen in March in the same court this time, answered back, cried political harassment and vowed he will do counter measures to get back on what he called as his “detractors” aimed only to malign his administration and downgrade whatever positive activities he accomplished in the said world famous resort town.
The Puerto Galera Business and Tourism Enterprises Association Inc. (PGBTEA), which in March have also filed a graft case against Mayor Dolor in the anti-graft court, is now asking the Ombudsman to place the said town’s chief executive and all members of the Sangguniang Bayan (municipal council) of Puerto Galera under preventive suspension while the group’s complaint of fund malversation case against the officials is being investigated.
PGBTEA, a group of at least 35 resort and business owners, based its complaint on the annual report of the Commission on Audit (COA) on the 2012 transactions of the municipal government. The COA report, which was dated June 19, 2013, was published on COA’s website recently this year.
However, Dolor, in an interview, debunked the PGBTEA’s complaint saying there was not any finding of such nature which proves his (Dolor’s) fund misuse. And if ever there was a “glimpse” of fund misuse happened in 2011-2012 as alleged, the mayor wondered why only now that the group is suing the entire local officials of Puerto Galera.
In a copy of the 11-page complaint filed on June 16 with the Ombudsman, PGBTEA claimed that some P20-million of the municipal trust fund, which was previously deposited at the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), a government depository bank, was transferred by the municipal administration to the private United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) in 2011.
The said amount came from the collection of “environmental users’ fees,” or the P50 collected by the municipal government from every guest or tourist in the town for environment conservation, and according to PGBTEA president Romeo Roxas, the mayor and his administration violated the law through the “illegal use of trust funds and giving unwarranted benefit to a private bank.”
In an interview, Dolor explained the UCPB account was lawfully allowed, meaning, it was known and approved by the Department of Finance, and it was opened to satisfy the bank’s requirement to put up its automated teller machines (ATM) in Puerto Galera, the first to be set up in the area.
“The EUF is still almost intact in the bank and nothing comes of the said trust fund,” Dolor said adding putting up an ATM, was just for the purpose of giving Puerto Galera local government employees’ salaries.
“I did not steal even a single centavo from the municipal coffers, and what we did was purely service,” insisted the mayor.
Dolor also said he only want 4Ps in his town, or “peace, progress for the people of Puerto Galera.” Nevertheless, he hinted the possibility of him (Dolor) doing counter measures on his detractors legally, or those based on advises of his legal friends. (By JUANCHO R. MAHUSAY)