Dismissals hurting Arroyo bets in poll campaign?Palace exec

VILLASIS, Philippines — Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor appealed to the Ombudsman on Friday to temporarily stop the suspension of local officials, who are facing various charges.

Defensor, who inaugurated the town hall here, said the implementation of suspension orders ahead of the May elections had been used by members of the opposition in criticizing the Arroyo administration.

“We do not intend to preempt the Ombudsman because it’s an independent body, but we hope they will see that we do not need these situations in the middle of an election period,” he said.

He said the suspension or dismissal of local officials had repercussions on the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Read full story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer 

German kills self in detention cell ? NBI

DAGUPAN CITY — A German arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Bureau of Immigration (BI) in Alaminos City on Wednesday for alleged acts of lasciviousness was found dead early Thursday at the NBI detention cell here.

Jose Doloiras, agent-in-charge of the NBI here, said Uwe Krause, 54, committed suicide by hanging himself with nylon bag straps tied to the iron ceiling grill of his cell.

Doloiras said Krause’s death was discovered at about 4 a.m. when his 25-year-old girlfriend noticed the German was not in his bed.

Read full story in Philippine Daily Inquirer 

Aguilar mayor surprised at his suspension

DAGUPAN CITY — Mayor Ricardo Evangelista of Aguilar, Pangasinan said here today he was surprised to have learned that he was being suspended from office by the Ombudsman for a complaint against him that he did not know about.

“I was surprised. I did not know that there was a complaint against me,” Evangelista said in an interview over Aksyon Radyo here.

He said he never received any subpoena to allow him to answer the charges and he just learned about the complaint when the Department of the Interior and Local Government provincial office in Lingayen town served his supension order last Saturday.

The Ombudsman ordered the preventive suspension of Evangelista four months for alleged dishonesty and misconduct arising from his alleged irregular disbursement of the town’s special education fund.

“It happened so fast,” Evangelista said.

From the documents he received, he said he learned that the complaint was filed against him in Nov. 13 last year and within two months, he was already being suspended.

He also said the complaint against him was politically motivated because the complainant, Priscilla Villanueva, a supervisor of the Department of Education, is the aunt of Vice Mayor Cesar Villanueva.

“Definitely, there’s politics here because the supervisor and the vice mayor are close relatives. She also has other relatives who ran against me and lost in the 2004 elections,” Evangelista said.

Evangelista, who is now on his second term, ran under the opposition Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino while the vice mayor ran under the banner of the administration’s Lakas-CMD party.

But he said his suspension will not stop him from seeking reelection in the May elections because, he said, he still has the support his constituents.

He also said he has padlocked his office in the Aguilar municipal hall for fear that his detractors “might put something there that may be used against me.”

Evangelista also appealed for sobriety to his supporters. “Let us keep our town peaceful and orderly,” he said.

COA clears San Carlos mayor of anomalous deals

SAN CARLOS CITY – The Commission on Audit has cleared Mayor Julian Resuello of any wrongdoing in various city government transactions, which were enumerated in a complaint against him here.

In a report released today, the COA Legal Adjudication Office, which formed a special audit team, said the complaint of one Carlito Naval of this city was baseless because the audit team did not find any anomaly in any of the transactions.

The report was signed by Carlos Francis Santiago, team leader of the special audit team.

In his complaint, Naval said that the city government renovated the old city mayor’s office for P500,000 without the benefit of a contract; bought heavy equipment vehicles for P60 million; and built a P7-million shed inside its new public market.

He also said that the Resuello bought 24 overpriced motor vehicles, which were used by the mayor’s relatives; and received an unrecorded donation of P500,000 for the construction of a waiting shed in front of the plaza.

Naval had identified six other alleged anomalous transactions by the city government but the COA said that these had been sufficiently addressed by Regional Cluster Director Caesar Ramirez of the COA regional office in San Fernando City in La Union, who had earlier acted on Naval’s complaint.

On the renovation of the mayor’s office, the audit team said that contrary to Naval’s allegation, the repair was implemented under a contract dated Nov. 28, 1998, which was entered into by the city government and Val Cruz Construction and Supply in the amount of P644,011.15.

“The team also inspected the repair works and found the items to be in accordance with those in the contract,” the report said.

On the purchase of heavy equipment worth P60 million, the COA said that it evaluated the city’s inventory of construction and heavy equipment and found that the city had 22 heavy and light construction equipment, including five mini-dump trucks.

“Apparently, these had a total cost of P23,250,000,” the audit team said. “Canvass and evaluation showed the purchase prices to be reasonable, being lower than the average prices,” it added.

The audit team also found that the city government did not disburse any amount fro the construction of a waiting shed inside the new public market.

It added that the city government bought 20 four-wheeled vehicles, tricycles and motorcycles. But the audit team said that after evaluating of the prices of the vehicles, it did not find any overpricing.

It also found that based on memorandum receipts covering the questioned vehicles, these are assigned to various offices of the city government and the Philippine National Police.

On the unrecorded donation of P500,000 for the construction of a waiting shed, the audit team found that the structure was built in two phases for a total cost of P994,052.40. The first phase cost P498,552.40 and the second phase was worth P495,500.

But it said that although it did not find any appropriation, contract or record in the city’s books of account, the team believed that Resuello acted “in good faith” in not immediately recording the donations.

“In order to avoid doubts on the accuracy of the city’s financial statements and misapprehension by the public, it is recommended that all donations …must be accounted for and recorded in the books as government funds,” the COA said.