In Eastern Samar
TACLOBAN CITY- Eight members of the provincial board in Eastern Samar filed criminal and administrative charges against acting Governor Marcelo Ferdinand Picardal, acting Vice Gov. Jonas Abuda, among others, for reportedly falsifying documents relative to the 2018 provincial budget of P1.28 billion.
On their complaint-affidavit before the Office of Ombudsman- Visayas, board members Celestino Cabato, Byron Suyot, Karen Alvarez, Annabelle Capito, Jaime Ty, Ma. Caridad Sison-Goteesan, Maximo Zacate, and Aldwin Aklao, alleged that Gov. Picardal, Vice Gov. Abuda together with Franklin Robedizo, provincial board secretary, and Annabelle Echavez, regional director of the Department of Budget and Management(DBM), colluded with each other to approve 2018 provincial budget despite of lacking documents as required.
The respondents were accused to have committed falsification of official document, dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
On their nine-page complaint they filed before the anti-graft court on December 13,2018, with the Leyte Samar Daily Express obtaining a copy over the weekend, claimed that the provincial board did not approved the 2018 annual investment plan(AIP), which serves as the legal basis of the 2018 annual budget during their January 5 regular session.
However, considering that it was already the start of the fiscal year, they have agreed to pass the 2018 AIP in ‘principle’ pending the submission of lacking documents by Gov. Picardal.
With the approval of the AIP, the 2018 provincial budget was also approved in principle.
“(But) without our knowledge or information, acting Vice Gov. Abuda and Franklin Robedizo, and approved by acting Gov. Picardal, taking advantage of their positions, in collusion and in conspiracy with each other by means of fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation, unlawfully and feloniously prepared, issued, and falsified Appropriation Ordinance No.18-30 (involving)P1.28 billion)…by themselves alone and wilfully deviating from our established procedure for us to affix our signatures…,” the complainants said.
The same ‘falsified’ appropriation ordinance was submitted and approved by the regional DBM office as represented by Echavez.
Reached for his comment, Robedizo dismissed the allegation saying that it was nothing but politically grandstanding.
He said that the budget was duly approved by the provincial board members, one of the complainant, Cabato, served as its movant.
“Nobody interposed and objected when it was approved. It was already reviewed and approved by the DBM and declared as operative by the DBM,” Robedizo said.
Incidentally, the provincial government of Samar is operating under the 2018 budget as its proposed 2019 P1.4 billion budget has yet to be approved by the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
(JOEY A. GABIETA)