Mayors, barangay captains top respondents in graft charges in Mindanao

Humphrey Monteroso, deputy ombudsman for Mindanao, showed in his report that for the period 1999 to 2006 most cases filed at the anti-graft body involved officials holding either of the two positions.

The same report said around 65 percent of respondents belonged to local government units (LGUs).

Monteroso presented his report during a program for the 19th anniversary of the Office of the Ombudsman, an independent constitutional body.

Next to barangay captains and mayors were barangay councilors. The other respondents were municipal councilors, teachers, municipal treasurers, regional directors, accountants, barangay treasurers, and members of provincial boards.

The sheer number of persons holding these positions partly explains why many of them were implicated in the complaints, the Office of the Ombudsman Mindanao told MindaNews in July 2006.

Last year, the Ombudsman told MindaNews that 2,500 municipal and city councilors were charged from 1989 to 2003.

Closely following the councilors are mayors, barangay captains, teachers, and school principals. The list also ranked from fifth to tenth places barangay councilors, treasurers, police officers, regional directors, accountants, and vice mayors.

The complaints also involved personnel from the following agencies: Department of Education with 13 percent, Department of Environment and Natural Resources with 8 percent, Philippine National Police with 5 percent, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Agrarian Reform with 3 percent and the Department of Agriculture with 2 percent.

Monteroso said most charges cited violations of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; falsification, malversation, misconduct and grave misconduct, violations against Republic 6713 or the Code of Ethics and Unexplained Wealth, dishonesty, violation of the other provisions of Revised Penal Code, estafa, negligence and neglect of duty.

He told MindaNews the figure means the need for more education among government officials noting that a big number of those accused especially barangay officials were just ignorant of procedures.

He said a number of those who were found to have violated anti-graft laws took shortcuts in procedures like in bidding processes.

He said that apart from public vigilance they are also looking at installing non-organic resident ombudsmen in local government units to raise public awareness against corruption.

He said once people in the community realize someone is watching and trying to raise public awareness against graft and corruption, they would be encouraged and emboldened to be more vigilant.

He said they have 271 resident ombudsmen in towns, cities and provinces around Mindanao.

Mindanao has 27 provinces, 27 cities and 422 towns.