• Ombudsman files graft case vs mayor

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    The Office of the Ombudsman has filed charges at the Sandiganbayan against the municipal mayor of Dalaguete, Cebu, Ronald Allan Cesante, for allegedly approving a lease deal in favor of his wife in 2007.

    The cases were for violation of Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 216 (Possession of Prohibited Interest by a Public Officer) of the Revised Penal Code.

    Assistant Special Prosecutor II Anna Leah Tiongson-Mendoza of the Ombudsman alleged that Cesante had “direct or indirect financial or pecuniary interest in the Contract of Lease entered into and approved in favor of his wife, Joanna Cesante, over four commercial units in the municipal-owned Dalaguete Commercial Center Building situated in the Poblacion of Dalaguete” for the amount of P237,510 “as goodwill money” payable in three years from the contract’s execution on June 27, 2007 and for P7,125 as monthly rental.

    Thus, the charge sheet stated, Cesante allegedly intervened or took part in the deal or transaction “in his official capacity to the damage and prejudice of the government.”

    Section 3(h) of the anti-graft law prohibits public officials from having pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in which they take part in their official capacity, or in which they are prohibited by the Constitution or any law from having any interest.

    Article 216 of the Revised Penal Code provides for the penalty for such.

    In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Ombudsman said that it found upon investigation that his wife had been using the commercial space since 2004 without any contract or payment.

    Cesante later allegedly signed the lease deal in favor of his wife in 2007 supposedly without approval from the Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council), it said.

    Based on the case records, Cesante had already posted a total of P36,000 bail for his provisional liberty.

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