Ombudsman asks Bacolod mayor, officials to answer charges

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BACOLOD CITY: Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia and several city officials were ordered to reply to charges filed by the Ombudsman–Visayas over alleged irregularity in the purchase of a P23.8-million private lot for the Solid Waste Disposal Facility in 2008.

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Also asked to answer the charges were then-City Councilor and now Rep. Greg Gasataya; former City Accountant Eduardo Ravena; former Secretary to the Mayor Goldwyn Nifras; Maphilindo Polvora (City Assessor); Josephus Cerna (Department of Public Services); Maximo Sillo (Environment and Natural Resources
Office); Noel Impresso (Task Force Clean and Green Coordinating Action Team); Annabelle Badajos (former City Treasurer); Ricardo Dahil-Dahil (Officer-in-charge, Management and Audit Services Office); Teresita Guadalupe (former OIC City Engineer); Efren Canlas (DPS); and Lemuel Reynaldo (DPS).

Leonardia, Gasataya, Ravena, Nifras, Polvora, Cerna, Sillo and Impresso face administrative charges for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, while the rest are accused of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Based on an affidavit filed by Johana Sanchez, Ombudsman Regional Office graft investigation officer, the cases stemmed from a complaint filed by a concerned citizen during the previous term of Leonardia.

The Commission on Audit (CoA) Annual Audit Report (AAR) of the City of Bacolod for the year 2009 showed that the city contracted for the purchase of lots in Barangay Felisa totaling 70,000 square meters, which included 9,525 sq m unappraised road lots for its dump in the amount of P340 per sq m, or a total value of P23.8 million, was found to be “excessive.”

The complaint cited that the contract price, according to the city appraisal committee, is P23.8 million, but the contract price according to CoA appraised valuation is only P18,323,719.05.

The balance disallowed by the audit body was P5,476,280.95.

Leonardia said the transaction was above board, adding he totally disagrees with the findings of CoA.

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