Ombudsman indicts ex-mayor of Bacolod

Merlinda A. Pedrosa

THE Office of the Ombudsman has found a probable cause to file the criminal complaints against former Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella on the P50.5-million funds of the Bacolod Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Basoc) while the complaints against his two co-respondents were dismissed.

The 17-page resolution dated November 25, 2016 was signed by Graft Investigator and Prosecution Officer III Portia Pacquiao and was approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on May 26, 2017.

The complainant was the Field Investigation Office, Office of the Ombudsman.

The resolution stated that finding probable cause against Puentevella for malversation of public funds (Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code) and violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, let the corresponding information be filed against him in the proper court.

As to respondents Edwin Javellana and Eric Loretizo, these criminal complaints are dismissed for lack of probable cause, the resolution added.

Puentevella’s spokesperson Sarah Esguerra said the liquidation is still pending and being reviewed by the Commission on Audit (COA).

She said in most cases, it is premature for the Ombudsman to decide on this case simply because the COA has yet to give its final resolution.

“In cases of similar circumstance, the Ombudsman recently dismissed the cases outright simply because it was still premature. We hope the Ombudsman will reconsider its decision. We are just happy that the Philippines became Sea Games overall champion 12 years ago for the first time in history because of Bacolod’s contribution,” Esguerra added.

The joint resolution stated that the cases were filed on February 18, 2014 by the Field Investigation Office, Office of the Ombudsman, represented by Lawyer Rholie Besoña, against Puentevella, along with Javellana and Loretizo, both private individuals, finance head and secretary general, respectively, of Basoc, for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 or Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as amended; failure of accountable officer to render accounts; and illegal use of public funds or property.

On May 8, 2014, Samuel Montoyo filed against Puentevella for malversation of funds; and violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019.

On August 23, 2016, then Department of Budget and Management Secretary Romulo Neri issued Special Allotment Release Order No. B-05-03730 amounting to P50 million to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for the hosting of the 23rd SEA Games on November 27 to December 5, 2005.

PSC transferred a total of P50.5 million to Basoc through checks payable to Basoc and respondent Puentevella and deposited to RCBC current account No. 1422-15860.

However, Basoc is not registered, either as corporation or a partnership, with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

On March 20, 2006, Puentevella submitted his liquidation of P20 million to the PSC chairman. In turn, PSC submitted the liquidation documents to the COA-PSC on February 1, 2008.

The resolution said that respondents Javellana and Loretizo, other than their being the finance head and secretary general, respectively, of Basoc, there is neither allegation nor evidence of their participation in the control and disbursement of the SEA Games fund.

Moreover, there is no showing of conspiracy between them and respondent public official Puentevella. Hence, as private individuals, they cannot be held liable for malversation of public funds, violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019, which offenses applicable only to public officers and private persons charged in conspiracy with them.