Plunder, graft raps filed vs Bulacan gov, 6 others

By Michael Punongbayan and Dino Balabo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 23 2014 10:46 AM | Updated as of Feb 23 2014 06:46 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Criminal charges, including plunder and graft, have been filed against Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado and six other provincial officials for alleged failure to liquidate public funds amounting to P287 million in 2012.

The charges, filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on Feb. 14, stemmed from a 2012 report of the Commission on Audit (COA) on alleged unliquidated intelligence funds, unrecorded collections, and misuse of the development fund, among others.

Alvarado denied the charges, saying it was political harassment.

“It’s not true,” Alvarado told The STAR in a telephone interview on Friday. He said the charges were baseless noting they have liquidated the funds mentioned in the charges.

“We have liquidated that funds and we are continuously liquidating other expenses,” he said. Aside from Alvarado, named respondents in the complaint were provincial treasurer Belinda Bartolome, provincial accountant Marites Friginal, budget officer Marina Flores, planning and development officer Arlene Pascual, former provincial administrator now chief of staff Jim Valerio, and former general services officer Marina Sarmiento.

The complainant, Antonio Manganti of Barangay Camachile, Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan, said the COA’s latest audit report on the province showed the respondents allegedly committed plunder and graft, and violated the procurement law, among others.

Manganti was said to be a rebel returnee and a former employee of the provincial government during the administration of former governor Josefina dela Cruz.

“The 2012 annual audit report showed the respondents took advantage of their position as governor and members of the finance committee and connived with each other to convert, misuse and malverse public funds by,” Manganti said in his complaint.

Manganti accused Alvarado and his officials of allegedly accumulating ill-gotten wealth amounting to more than P287.3 million.

In the 2012 audit report, the COA cited over P200 million in alleged unliquidated intelligence funds, P60.5 million in unrecorded collections, P87.97 million budget overruns, lapses in hiring job order employees and consultants, irregularities on financial documents, misuse of development fund and non-payment of taxes.

In a live broadcast over Radyo Bulacan yesterday, Alvarado said the plunder charge filed against him was a mere harassment even as he challenged his political rivals to face him instead of using dummies like Manganti.