Surigao Norte mayor, sister face graft raps

GENERAL LUNA, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/04 July) — The Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao has filed a case before the Sandiganbayan against a mayor in Surigao del Norte for hiring as consultant his lawyer-sister who was earlier dismissed from government service.

In a resolution, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Nelson D. Edralin said that both Mayor Rushford Pinga Dedumo of San Benito town and his sister Flordeliza Dedumo-Coro violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Edralin noted that the mayor secured the legal services of his sister without the written approval of the Office of the Solicitor General and concurrence from the Commission on Audit.

The resolution said Dedumo appointed Coro as consultant to his office and paid her P22,760 for her services even if the Supreme Court ruled on Sept. 23, 1996 that Coro be dismissed from government service “with disqualification for reemployment in the national and local governments, as well as in any government instrumentality of agency, including government-owned or controlled corporations.”

“[Coro] is understood to be an expert, providing professional advice on legal matters. Certainly, she has full knowledge of her disqualification and that the grant of cash advance to her and the payment of her fee without the conformity of the OSG and the COA were improper,” the resolution reads.

At that time she was dismissed from government, Coro was the municipal judge of Del Carmen town, Surigao del Norte.

The Supreme Court found the then judge guilty of gross inefficiency and gross negligence for failure to act promptly on cases and for unduly archiving cases which were not within her jurisdiction.

Under section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, “public officials are prohibited from causing any undue injury to any party, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”

Complainant Juan Caballejos of the same municipality alleged that the mayor appointed his sister despite knowing that she had been removed from government service and barred from holding any office.

Caballejos added that Dedumo’s approval of Coro’s cash advance worth P22,760 for an official business travel to Manila violated the anti-graft law, and that Coro remains liable even if she refunded the amount.

In their counter-affidavit, the siblings asserted that Coro’s appointment did not violate any law since she was never disbarred from practice, and she is a lawyer who is helping out in a negotiation between a bank in Manila and their municipality over a loan obtained by the previous administration of the local government unit.

With the services rendered by Coro through her appointment as consultant, respondents further asserted, she is entitled to a professional fee and reimbursement of the expenses incurred.

Last Friday, Dedumo told MindaNews via mobile phone that they already filed a motion for reconsideration before the Ombudsman and were waiting for a resolution.

Dedumo was reelected in this year’s election. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)