Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Ghost" Seminar, Measly P80k Did Tupas In

Up to now, people in Iloilo are still not clear on why their Governor was dismissed from public service by the Ombudsman. The details of the case are still hazy but this is what I have gathered so far based on local media reports:

1. Governor Niel Tupas Sr. faces not one but two dismissal orders from the Ombudsman. The cases stemmed from the two administrative cases filed by the People's Graftwatch of Iloilo, Inc., a local socio-civic group, against Governor Tupas and Board Members Domingo Oso and Cecilia Capadosa for illegally disbursing P80,000 for trainings seminars of the Provincial Board Members League of the Philippines (PBMLP). The amount was taken from the Governor's Community Direct Action Fund, which represents 20% of the Annual Development Fund for 2004. The Ombudsman, in its decision, said the respondents failed to present proof that the PBMLP activities indeed transpired.

2. Governor Tupas was dismissed for allowing the release of the funds despite the lack of specific allocation for the said purpose. Board Member Capadosa, then the PBMLP treasurer, was implicated for receiving and depositing the amount in her personal account while Board Member Oso was dismissed for receiving part of the money as reimbursements for seminars and trainings he attended. Ironically, Oso's younger brother, the outspoken Monsignor Meliton Oso, was one of the complainants in the two administrative complaints filed by the People's Graftwatch of Iloilo that has now resulted in the perpetual disqualification of his brother in public service .

3. The lawyers of Governor Tupas alleged that they were not given due process and that their client is being harassed for siding with the opposition. They argued that the Ombudsman order is not yet final and executory since under the rules, they have 15 days to appeal and procure a TRO from the Court of Appeals. The lawyers also argued that they must be furnished with an original copy and not mere xerox copies of the order. They refused to accept the xerox copy of the dismissal order which was served by DILG Regional Director Evelyn Trompeta around 4 pm yesterday.

4. According to Director Trompeta, the orders were deemed served nothwithstanding the respondents' refusal to accept the documents and their lawyers' arguments that they must be furnished an original copy. DILG Undersecretary Andanar administered the oath of office of Vice Governor Roberto Armada as governor and Board Member Emmanuel Gallar as vice governor at the DILG regional office past 4pm yesterday.

5. Ombudsman Guitierrez issued the decision on December 4, 2006 and it was transmitted to the DILG for enforcement on January 12, 2007. Thus, DILG officials argue, Tupas' 15-day window to get a TRO is deemed to have expired.

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