The Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City has ordered the filing of charges against former Bacolod mayor Monico Puentevella for malversation of public funds and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,after finding probable cause in the handling of the P50.5 million Bacolod Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee funds.
The criminal complaint for violation of R.A. 3019, Art.218 of the Revised Penal Code or Failure of Accountable Officer to Render Accounts, and Art. 220 of the RPC for Illegal use of Public Funds or Property, were filed by the Field Investigation Office of the Ombudsman on Feb. 18, 2014 against Puentevella, Edwin Javellana and Eric Loretizo, BASOC finance head and secretary general, respectively.
The Ombudsman, however, dismissed the complaint against Javellana and Loretizo for lack of probable cause.
The order ofthe Ombudsman dated Nov. 25, 2016 was signed by Portia Pacquiao, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer lll.
Save Bacolod Movement convenor Samuel Montoyo had also filed a similar complaint against Puentevella, on May 8, 2014, alleging that the former mayor should also be liable for malversation of public funds since, he not only failed to account for the P50.5 million, he also deposited the funds to his personal bank account.
Montoyo said he should also be charged for supposedly allocating and sending P370,422.50 out of the P50.5 million SEA Games fund for the beautification of the Bacolod City Cemetery in Burgos Street, Bacolod City.
He said the charges against Puentevella will be filed before the Sandiganbayan.
Meanwhile, Puentevella, when contacted, sent the reply of his spokesperson Sarah Esguerra, who said the liquidation of the funds is still pending and being reviewed by the Commission on Audit.
In most cases, it is premature for the Ombudsman to decide on this case simply because COA has yet to give its final resolution. In cases of similar circumstances, the Ombudsman recently dismissed the cases outright simply because it was still premature, Esguera said.*CGS
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