Ombudsman bans ex-Samal mayor from gov’t over “cash gifts”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 October)– The Office of the Ombudsman has banned former Island Garden City of Samal mayor Aniano Antalan from government service after he was found guilty of grave misconduct for receiving “cash gifts” from a cooperative.

In a decision dated October 19, 2017, the Ombudsman meted, among others, the following penalties against Antalan: perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits, cancellation of eligibility and ban from taking the Civil Service Examination.

The former mayor will also be charged with three counts of Indirect Bribery and two counts of violation of RA 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

After nearly three decades of renting an office, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman ifor Mindanao will soon transfer to its own building at Earth corner Libra streets, GSIS Heights Subdivision in Matina, Davao City. Construction of the building is almost finished. MindaNews photo taken October 5, 2017 by GG BUENO

Section 3b of RA 3019 prohibits public officials from requesting or receiving any “gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the government and any other part, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law”.

Antalan was ordered to pay a fine equivalent to his one year salary.

On December 28, 2012, the Ombudsman said the local government entered into a memorandum of agreement with Samal Island Multi-purpose Cooperative (SIMC) and partylist Coop-National Confederation of Cooperatives (Coop-NATCCO).

The MOA allowed for the allocation of P5 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of former Coop-NATCCO representative Cresente Paez for the SIMC and tasked the local government to receive funds to be delivered to SIMC and to recommend the priority micro-finance projects and beneficiaries.

The Ombudsman said Antalan received a P200,000 “cash gift” from the SIMC on the same day the MOA was signed.

In a resolution the SIMC board approved the release “as an expression of gratitude to him because he is always there for the cooperative especially in approving/signing of the MOA between the local government of Igacos with the coop.”

Citing his counter-affidavit, the Ombudsman said the mayor did not deny receiving cash gifts and admitted receiving P100,000 in 2014 and P100,000 in 2016.

He said the amounts were small or of insignificant value and fell under the exception under RA 3019.

The Ombudsman countered that the “amounts given in 2014 and 2016 were not of nominal or insignificant value or mere tokens of gratitude under ordinary circumstances. It is manifest that the reason of SIMC’s board in giving the cash gifts was to acknowledge the help given by respondent in the approval of the MOA”.

The Ombudsman said the money given was not intended for the implementation of SIMC’s micro-lending program but a “cash gift at the full disposal of respondent”.

“First, the MOA does not provide for such kind of funding to respondent. Second, if the amount is really intended for such purpose, then it forms part of the public funds which should have been turned over to the city government for it to be the subject of regular accounting rules and procedures,” the Ombudsman added. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)