The Office of the Ombudsman has found sufficient grounds to file three counts of graft before the Sandiganbayan against North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza amid allegations of her illegal procurement of diesel fuel in 2010.
The governor is also at the center of a controversy involving the so-called April 1 Kidapawan Massacre that was linked to farmers’ demand for rice from the provincial government of North Cotabato to stave off hunger caused by the El Nino phenomenon.
The charges against Mendoza pertained to violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The Ombudsman alleged that the fuel, which was worth P2.4 million, was bought from a gasoline station owned by the governor’s mother, without having passed through any public bidding.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Ombudsman said Mendoza allegedly approved the
release of P2.4 million from provincial funds to pay for 49,526.72 liters of fuel used for one road grader and four dump trucks, which were utilized in a two-day road rehabilitation project.
Mendoza, who, the Ombudsman accused of dealing directly with the gasoline station’s management, said “it was only the Taliño Shell Station which was willing to accommodate the credit term requested by the provincial government.”
But Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales held that “there was no compelling justification for dispensing with the requirement of public bidding.”
Only 552 liters of diesel were actually consumed while 20,833 liters were actually paid for, according to the Ombudsman’s office.
“[T]he great disparity between the estimated 552 liters of diesel actually consumed for the two-day road maintenance project in Magpet vis-à-vis the 20,833 liters actually paid for, is proof that the fuel-purchase transaction is illegal and that this transaction is obviously a scheme to pocket government funds,” it said in its resolution.
The Ombudsman’s 0ffice added that “[respondent]made it appear that the diesel fuel was procured and used in a government project when in truth, only a small portion of the fuel was actually used and the rest was converted to cash for the benefit of those who were involved in the fraudulent transaction.”
Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law prohibits public officials from causing undue injury to any party including the government, or giving a private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of their official functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.