Villafuerte: Graft raps meant to harass

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2011 10:33 AM | Updated as of Jul 20 2011 06:33 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Camarines Sur Governor Luis “LRay” Villafuerte branded the malversation complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman by Camarines Sur Provincial board member Carlo Batalla as harassment, Tuesday.

The complaint is in connection with Villafuerte’s alleged approval of the provincial government’s purchase of fuel worth P20 million from Petron Fuel Express, which was not delivered.

Batalla’s complaint stated that the Camarines Sur government could not present documents proving that the funds were properly used, and asked that Villafurte and other officials be given 6-month preventive suspension orders, pending an investigation.

Also included in the complaint are acting Provincial General Services Officer Susan Laquindanum and members of her staff, identified as Anthony Navales, Jayson Miaza, Cezar Cervantes and Ramon Gonzales.

Villafuerte said Batalla’s move is politically motivated, and he is ready to charge the board member with malicious prosecution.

“Very obvious, harassment ito at kakasuhan din namin siya ng malicious prosecution dahil obvious wala naman siyang ginagawa kundi kasuhan tayo ng walang base,” he said.

He also alleged that Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella, who is pushing for the partition of Camarines Sur province into two, is behind the complaint.

“Cong. Fuentebella is behind this, kasama niya [Batalla] si Cong. Fuentebella para siraan po tayo sa pamamagitan ng mga kaso,” he said.

Fuentebella is the main author of House Bill 4820 or "An act creating the new province of Nueva Camarines," which has been approved by the House of Representatives on its third and final reading.

Fuentebella also accused Batalla of asking for money in exchange for dropping the complaint.

“A 100% nababayaran siya, kaya ko itong sabihin sa TV. Inalok din niya isang kasamahan namin ang sabi, bayaran na lang daw namin siya at ida-drop na niya ang mga kasong isinampa niya,” he said.

He added that it should be the Commission on Audit (CoA) that should file a complaint before the Ombudsman.

Batalla previously alleged that Villafuerte violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in 2008. – Report from Kate Deloviere, ABS-CBN News Bicol