Surigao mayor files motion for reconsideration on graft raps

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/28 March) — Mayor Ernesto T. Matugas has filed a motion for reconsideration in connection with the graft chargea filed against him before the Ombudsman-Mindanao.

Atty. Manuelito D. Delani, city legal officer, told MindaNews Friday afternoon that the mayor’s battery of lawyers had already responded to the recent resolution issued by Ombudsman-Mindanao.

“We filed his motion for reconsideration last week,” he said.
Delani did not disclose the gist of the motion saying it’s up for review before the Ombudsman.

Mayor Matugas is facing a graft complaint for hiring 14 consultants and contractual employees in 2011 without the approval of the City Council.

A resolution issued by the Ombudsman for Mindanao Director Maria Iluminada S. Lapid-Viva and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the complaint was filed by Matugas’ critics, Jamar Gavino and Rey Culbo and the late Bernardo Pecho.

MindaNews tried to get the mayor’s comment through his mobile phone but he could not be reached. The mayor is frequently in Manila.

The complaint said the original contracts of the 14 consultants and employees and the renewal of the same did not have the required authority of the City Council as mandated by the Local Government Code.

The complaint named the consultants and employees as Balgamelo Ma, adviser on political affairs; Philip Sykimte, financial consultant; Mario I. Gesta, Integrated Land Transport manager; Valeriano Ma, city sports coordinator; Cesar S. Conception, head Tricycle Franchising Office; William M. Angob, special assistant on financial affairs; Gilgie G. Dagala, executive assistant on financial affairs; Karen Chastity Ma, assistant head of Quick Action and Response Team; Michael D. Litang, architectural urban planner; retired Colonel Rodulfo E. Dela Piedra, head of Civil Security Unit; Kim S. Olaivar, legal researcher; Maria Lowela P. Marasigan, legal researcher; and special executive assistants Kim Jonas G. Orquillas Jr. and Emilda A. Retorta.
The eight-page resolution dated February 5, 2015, a copy of which was obtained by MindaNews last Saturday, said Matugas committed the prohibited act of entering into service contracts with his co-respondents without prior authority from the city council.

“Section 455(b) (1) (vii) in connection with Section 22 of R.A. No 7160 makes it a requirement that authorization of the Sangunian must first be secured before the chief executive officer concerned can enter into contracts in behalf of the local government unit,” it said
The Ombudsman also said Matugas “caused undue injury to the government in the consideration stated in such contracts or an aggregate amount of 1.2 million”.
The anti-graft body dismissed the case against the 14 co-respondents citing lack of probable cause in the existence of conspiracy.
In his counter-affidavit, Matugas said the service contracts did not require the authority of the City Council.
“Respondent Matugas, nevertheless, is reminded that public office is a public trust, and he must at all times be accountable to the people. He is not above the law, and does not have a license to disregard the requirement set forth therein,” the Ombudsman resolution reads.
“Wherefore, finding probable cause to indict respondent Ernesto T. Matugas for violation of Section 3 (e) of R.A. No 3019, let the enclosed information be filed before the appropriate court,” the resolution reads. (Roel N. Catoto / Mindanews)