Caloocan mayor surprised by suspension order

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2011 09:36 PM | Updated as of Jul 19 2011 03:33 PM

CALOOCAN CITY, Philippines - Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri is surprised over the Ombudsman's preventive suspension order due to his alleged failure to remit over P343 million in city government employees' contributions to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Echiverri said they have paid off about P87 million of their debt.

He also showed GSIS Chairman Daniel Lacson their proof of payment as early as last February.

Echiverri also claimed that the GSIS is still charging them based on erroneous records.

He said they are working on reconciling the accounts.

"Hindi po totoo na hindi po kami nakapag-bayad. Ang totoo niyan bayad kami, halos bayad na kami nung aming principal obligation sa GSIS. The problem is ang GSIS nagbi-bill sa amin na hindi tama ang billing," he told ANC's Top Story in a phone interview on Monday.

"The problem is that yung GSIS charges interest 2% per month. Since 1997 hanggang ngayon, china-charge nila iyun," he added.

Caloocan Vice-Mayor Edgar Erice had claimed that premium contributions to the GSIS were not remitted from July 1997 to December 2002, and again from January 2007 to December 2010.

Erice added that city hall officials refused to act despite being informed of their obligation.

Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro has placed Echiverri under a 6-month preventive suspension based on a complaint filed by Erice.

The allegations were confirmed by GSIS President Robert Vergara, the Ombudsman said in a press statement.
 
GSIS records show that the total obligation of Caloocan City as of December 31, 2010 amounted to P343,814,739.85, representing principal and interest for the unpaid compulsory premiums.
 
The Ombudsman said Echiverri, City Treasurer Evelina Garma, and City Budget Officer Jesusa Garcia, refused to act on the matter. 

Casimiro said Echiverri, Garma, Garcia, and Centeno have to be suspended because they may affect the investigation.

"The continued discharge of their functions of the respondents may likely influence potential witnesses or tamper with records which may be vital in the prosecution of the case against them," he added.
 
The suspension order was coursed through Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo. - ANC