After plunder, Surigao solon faces disqualification case

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/01 March)—After the plunder charge filed against him before Ombudsman-Mindanao, reelectionist Surigao del Norte (1st District) Rep. Francisco Matugas is now facing a disqualification case filed by a rival before the Commission on Elections.

In a six-page complaint filed recently, Gertrudes C. Saberon said that his opponent Matugas is “not qualified to be a candidate for congressman because he has committed the heinous crime of plunder.”

The complaint was based on a Commission on Audit (COA) decision, which said that Matugas converted his Priority Development Assistance Fund worth P63.5 million into intelligence funds for distribution to 15 municipalities.

Matugas is seeking reelection for the third time under the ruling Liberal Party, while Saberon will be vying against him for the second time. The first congressional district comprises Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands.

“While the said amounts were given to the different municipalities, the truth is that respondent Matugas actually pocketed the bulk of the said amount, only utilizing the mayors of the said towns as his dummies,” Saberon alleged in her complaint.

Citing the COA decision dated September 13, 2012, she noted that the “conversion by Matugas of his PDAF or pork barrel funds into intelligence funds was illegal.” Matugas earlier said the plunder charge against him was part of his political detractors’ demolition job to defeat him.

He could not be reached for comment on the disqualification issue, but his political spokesperson, Manuel Kong, said that Matugas will be calling a press conference Friday night at his residence. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)