• Ex-mayor, 4 others face raps over P3.6-M disbursement

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    The Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft charges before the Sandiganbayan against former Merida (Leyte) municipal mayor Rodrigo Wenceslao and four others over the allegedly illegal disbursement of public funds totaling P3.685 million in 2004.

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    Also charged were former municipal general services officer and former municipal accountant designate Eflida Olaguer, former municipal budget officer Josephine Mopon, former municipal treasurer Nenita Ceniza and former utility worker and former accounting clerk Rosalinda Castro.

    The Ombudsman’s office also accused the five individuals of malversation of public funds through falsification of public/official documents.

    It alleged that the respondents disbursed P3.085 million to Wenceslao “by making it appear that he is entitled to reimbursement claims on procurement of PE pipes” totaling 1,220 rolls worth P2,500 each, “when the purported procurement was made without an approved appropriation and that no supporting documents that the items were actually purchased and accepted by the intended beneficiaries/recipients of the twenty-two barangay [villages]of the municipality of Merida as claimed…”

    The respondents allegedly made it appear that Wenceslao was entitled to reimbursement claims “by falsifying” disbursement vouchers “through an untruthful narration of fact of procurement” made by him in the municipality’s behalf.

    A total of P600,000 was also allegedly disbursed to Wenceslao in connection with his reimbursement claims on supposed financial assistance that he gave to several villages of the town.

    But there was no appropriation for the financial assistance and there were no supporting documents showing that there was a specific project/program from which the aid was allocated, according to the Ombudsman.

    The respondents allegedly falsified three disbursement vouchers (one covering P300,000 and two covering P150,000 each) “by falsely narrating therein the financial assistance subject of the claim of… Wenceslao, when in truth and in fact accused knew that said financial assistance is false…”

    The Ombudsman recommended a total bail of P4,060,000 for the respondents’ provisional liberty.

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