Surigao solon’s perjury charge vs watchdog junked

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/22 December)-The City Prosecutor’s Office here has junked the perjury charge filed by Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Matugas (first district) against an anti-corruption group.

Matugas filed the case after the Coalition of Surigaonons for Good Governance, Transparency and Accountability (COSUGGTA) accused him of plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman. The complainants include Fernado Almeda Jr., the group’s chairperson; Victor Bernal, spokesperson; and members Edgardo Canda and Lolito Golo.

COSUGGTA lodged the plunder complaint after Matugas allegedly use his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the amount of P63.5 million as intelligence fund and distributed it to 15 mayors for counter insurgency activities.

In a decision dated September 13, 2012, the Commission on Audit recommended the filing of criminal and administrative cases against Matugas.

He argued that the group committed perjury “because he did not received and distributed the fund but only recommended the projects of the local government units for funding under his PDAF.”

Matugas also insisted that the amount of P63. 5 million was “a deliberate falsehood” because what he requested for funding amounted only to P49.5 million, which was below the P50 million threshold for filing a plunder case.

Matugas stressed the plunder charge maligned his reputation after it was published in different newspapers and aired by different radio stations.

The prosecutor’s office eight-page resolution junking the perjury case filed by Matugas was dated last December 5, a copy of which MindaNews obtained on Saturday.

It was signed by Danny Serrano, Agusan del Norte deputy prosecutor.

Serrano said the compliant of Matugas against COSUGGTA was dismissed as the Ombudsman has yet to decide on the plunder against him.

Relieved by the resolution, the group urged the Ombudsman to decide on the case immediately.

MindaNews tried but failed to reach Matugas for his comments. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)