Pre-trial of fund scam in Kidapawan starts

Joseph Biongan, chair of the Barangay Poblacion, through counsel Emma Ferenal, vehemently denied it was his signature that appeared on the more than 90 checks presented by City Prosecutor Al Calica, counsel of the complainant.


Calica said that all the checks presented for markings — about 93 of them amounting to P2.3 million — were all questionable.


The prosecution has classified into three the checks presented: first, checks issued without disbursement vouchers; second, those issued with altered or falsified vouchers; and third, pre-signed blank checks, about 19 of them.


“All those checks bore Biongan’s signature and barangay treasurer Susan Juguilon’s. But they have all the right to deny the accusation,” said Calica.


But since the burden of proof is laid upon the prosecution, Calica said they would present in the succeeding hearings a witness, an employee from the depository bank of the barangay, that would testify the authenticity of those signatures.


During the pre-trial, Calica presented a certified true copy of Circular Order No. 2002-004 issued by the Commission on Audit (COA) on Oct. 3, 2002, which revoked a previous order dated Jan. 28, 1994.


The COA, through the circular, has ordered all punong barangays, treasurers, auditors, accountants in all cities, municipalities, and provinces all over the country to discontinue the use of the accountant’s advice when preparing barangay check disbursements.


 “Such order, however, was obviously abused by the barangay chair and his treasurer,” said Calica.


Also, the prosecution presented a certification issued by Ranulfo Japson, chief of the licensing division, that stated that Zaide Mini-Trading and FBP Marketing and General Merchandise, major suppliers of Barangay Poblacion, have no business permits since 2005.


Calica said that almost half of those checks in question were issued to the two business establishments, which according to reports, are owned by an employee at the city accounting office.


After the pre-trial, formal hearings start on Sept. 19 with the Sangguniang Panlungsod sitting as quasi-judicial body.


“We assure everyone there would be no delay as to the imposition of the judgment or decision,” said Kidapawan City councilor and lawyer Dina Espina ,who acts as chair of the quasi-judicial body.