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IN CATANDUANES: Gov, mayor face graft rap

LEGAZPI CITY --- Ombudsman Samuel Martires has approved the filing of criminal complaints against Catanduanes Provincial Governor Joseph Cua and Bato Municipal Mayor Eulogio Rodriguez, in violation of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, according to documents obtained on Tuesday.

The 9-page resolution dated March 14, 2019 signed by 6 members of the special panel of investigators and recommending approval by Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval dated April 8 an subsequently approved by Ombudsman Martires on April 22, the governor and the town mayor were found culpable for the crime committed “with the element of partiality, evident bad faith, gross inexcusable negligence, and conspiracy” as cited in the complaint.

Early this year, Cua and Rodriguez had been ordered by the Ombudsman preventively suspended for 90 days in view of administrative charges filed against them. Cua ran for re-election and won last May 13’s midterm elections while Rodriguez lost in his re-election bid.

The graft case under OMB-L-C-18-0281 stemmed from the complaint filed by one Rey Mendez involving the province-owned vacant lot located at the capital town of Virac near the provincial government mall which E.R Construction (reportedly owned by Mayor Rodriguez) used as a bunkhouse for employees and equipment garage free of charge. Mendez who is a resident of Virac is reportedly a retired employee of the Philippine Ports Authority.

In his counter affidavit dated Oct. 15, 2018, Gov. Cua denied having any knowledge, nor given permit to E.R Construction to use said province-owned vacant lot as a bunkhouse and equipment garage adding that he seldom passed by the route.

The governor also denied knowing E.R Construction, which is engaged in public works contracts, as owned by Mayor Rodriguez.

On the other hand, Rodriguez stated in his counter affidavit that he was not the sole proprietor of E.R Construction nor had attachment with E.R Construction. This was, however, disputed by a certification issued by the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines dated June 13, 2016 stating E.R Construction as a sole proprietorship which identified respondent Eulogio Rodriguez as the authorized managing officer.

The documents said the concerned vacant property which was occupied by E.R Construction from January 2017 to March 2018 was not covered by a rental agreement, neither a provincial board resolution authorizing said construction firm to use the vacant lot as a bunkhouse and equipment garage.

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