TACLOBAN CITY- The mayor of Guiuan town in Eastern Samar who was ordered suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman cries political harassment.
Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales, outgoing mayor of Guiuan town, said that he finds it unfortunate that the decision of the anti-graft court came at a time as the country is to hold elections.
He said that the case against him was filed while he was seeking for a reelection as mayor of Guiuan in March, 2016.
Gonzales, who is serving his third and last term as mayor of Guiuan is seeking for a congressional seat for Eastern Samar lone congressional district in this year’s midterm elections.
“It’s purely harassment and politically motivated. This issue always come out every election. But it’s not true because the local government of Guiuan has no disallowances from the Commission on Audit,” Gonzales said.
He also said that the complaint against him were fabricated and that he submitted the lacking documents before the anti-graft court when he was asked to answer it earlier.
“There was no findings by the Ombudsman that there were overpriced but just lack of documents which we already provided earlier,” Gonzales said.
He also said that he has yet to receive the copy of the Ombudsman ruling. But once he received it, he would immediately file his motion for reconsideration.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires, on his February 12 order, preventively suspended Gonzales for six months without pay for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.
The case against Gonzales stemmed from a complaint filed by Kiriath Jearn Andrie Tumanda and Avelino Balagbis, Jr., both residents of the town, claiming for misuse of Recovery Assistance on Yolanda (RAY), a fund downloaded to towns and cities hit by Yolanda from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The town received P43 million intended for the repair of its municipal building and P13 million for its public market.
It also received P152.99 million to be used for the repair of about 89 barangay halls.
But the Ombudsman, however, said that its Field Investigation Bureau found no proof contractors, Pedro S. Labasbas Construction and EDG Americas Inc., submitted documents stating their technical, legal and financial competence to undertake the projects.
The Ombudsman said EDG Americas Inc., which bagged the contract for the works involving the repair of public market and the barangay facilities, also deviated from the approved plans stated in the program of works, such as discrepancies in the construction materials used and the number of floors built.
Also suspended by the Ombudsman were municipal accountant Adrian Bernardo; municipal treasurer Felicisima Bernardo; bids and awards committee members Arsenio Salamida, Esperanza Cortin, Danilo Colandog, Gilberto Labicante, Ma. Nenita Ecleo, and Felipe Padual; and Zosimo Macabasag, BAC technical working group member.