• Ex-Basilan vice mayor charged with graft

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    The Office of the Ombudsman found sufficient grounds to charge former Vice-Mayor Arleigh Eisma of Lamitan City in Basilan with graft before the Sandiganbayan in connection with alleged illegal disbursement of funds paid to a gas station he owned.

    Eisma allegedly facilitated and approved the gasoline expenses totaling P1,120,186.90 for his private service vehicles from August to October 2012, the Ombudsman said in a statement issued on Friday citing its Resolution.

    The charge was for violation of Section 3(h) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

    It alleged that it was Eisma alone who approved all the trip tickets, purchase requests, purchase orders, inspection and acceptance reports, checks and disbursement vouchers.

    According to the Ombudsman, Eisma stated in his counter-affidavit that there were only three gas stations in Lamitan, two of which were owned by a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council).

    The former vice mayor also asserted that “the city council would not have any fuel supply if relationship is made a prohibition.”

    But in its Resolution, the Ombudsman said that “the transactions were all undertaken with respondent fully knowing that they will be beneficial and favorable to him as owner of the gasoline station.”

    “[T]his is a clear transgression on the prohibition of a public official having pecuniary interest on a transaction which requires the intervention of his office,” it alleged.

    The Local Government Code prohibits local government officials from engaging in business transactions with the local government units wherein they are officials, or over which they have the power of supervision where public funds are to be paid.

    In this case, the Ombudsman said, the receipts issued by the gas station “clearly indicated” Eisma’s name as registered proprietor of the business.

    REINA TOLENTINO

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