Surigao City mayor, treasurer accused of illegal exaction

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/10 February)–Another case has been filed before the office of the Ombudsman against Surigao City Mayor Enesto T. Matugas.

For the fifth time, Matugas has been charged for illegal exaction and other corrupt practices. Charged together with the mayor was city treasurer Sarah P. Yamit

The complainant, Jamar D. Gavino, who is identified with the rival Barbers camp and one of the staunchest critics of the administration, said Matugas and Yamit broke the law when they increased the fee for a business plate from P200 to P250.

Gavino narrated that on January 2, the start of the first business day of the year, the local government opened its Business Licensing and Permit One Stop Shop for the application of renewal of business permits and licenses, and that applicants were surprised upon being required to purchase a new business plate in the amount of P250.

The new business plate has a new design featuring the image of Matugas.

Gavino said the city has an existing ordinance on business plates and that the cost was fixed at P200 by law.

“The said ordinance has not been amended or repealed. To this day it remains effective and valid. Hence, the issuance of a new Business Permit Plate with a new design and a new price tag is clearly illegal and invalid as there is no legal basis for the same,” he noted.

This “clearly falls within the definition of the crime of illegal exactions under Article 213 of the Revised Penal Code,” the complaint said.

Gavino added that the “illegal act has clearly has caused undue injury to the businessmen who have been required to pay more than that which is provided by law, by evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence.”

“Respondents’ bad faith is exemplified by the fact that way back September 22, 2011 and November 23, 2011 they have indorsed to the Sangguiang Panlungsod a request for the amendment of Ordinance No. 189 series of 2002. They therefore knew that until such time as said ordinance would be amended, they respondents had no authority nor basis to issue a new Business permit plate at a new rate other than that which was provided for the ordinance,” the complaint stated.

Gavino said that the new business permit plate with the face of Matugas prominently displayed on the front was “a cheap political gimmick.”

Matugas said he would not comment on the complaint because he had yet to receive copies of the complaint.

The latest complaint was the fifth to be filed before the Ombudsman since the mayor took office.

The first complaint stemmed from appointment of a losing candidate named Philip Skykimte before the lapse of the one-year ban on appointing losing candidates.

In the succeeding complaints Matugas was accused of receiving “bribe” money amounting to P5 million from mall magnate Henry Gaisano, appointing “contractuals” without approval from the City Council, and refusing to receive the back rentals of Surigao Rural Banking Corporation for a leased prime property in the city boulevard. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)