Questioned incident happened in 2009
TACLOBAN CITY- For an act that happened about 10 years ago, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone is now facing a graft complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Evardone, who was governor at that time, was accused by Edilberto Grata, Jr., for violation of section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as his questioned acts allegedly resulted to ‘undue injury’ to the provincial government of Eastern Samar.
Grata, who is a resident of Can-avid, also in Eastern Samar, in his complaint he filed before the anti-graft court on Jan.14, stated that Evardone committed graft involving P5.37 million by extending financial assistance to the Liga ng mga Barangay- Eastern Samar which was used for a Lakbay Aral involving barangay leaders of the province for a seminar on good governance in Baguio City on February,2009.
He also said that during the seminar, Evardone, who was on his last term as governor at that time and had expressed his desire to run for congressman during the 2010 elections, also handed P1,000 each to the barangay leaders who attended the seminar.
The provincial government, under Evardone, also entered an agreement with SEAIR to transport the participants, Grata said on his complaint.
Grata said that part of the ‘overall design of the seminar workshop was a commitment made by the governor and the participants.
“In this situation, each barangay chairperson would be made to express his/her commitment of support to then Governor Evardone who made known his intentions to run for Congress in 2010 elections,” he said.
And by giving their support on his congressional bid, Evardone then gave P1,000 each to them, Grata added.
But Evardone, who is now on his last term as congressman of the lone district of Eastern Samar and is seeking for the gubernatorial post in this year’s elections, dismissed the complaint as nothing but ‘purely politically motivated.’
“The fund in questions were aid to barangays transferred to the Liga ng mga Barangays through a memorandum of understanding. It was the liga that disbursed the funds, which were fully liquidated and supported by official receipts and airline tickets. So not a single centavo passed through me,” Evardone, in a press statement, said.
“This happened a decade ago and the timing is suspect. Why only now? There is no doubt that the filing of the case is purely politically motivated,” the congressman said.
(JOEY A. GABIETA)