Ombudsman urged to investigate Albay congressman’s alleged illegal wealth

admin   •   June 7, 2016   •   5304

Complainant Hernando Bruce (left0 and Albay representative Edcel Lagman (right). (UNTV NEWS)

Complainant Hernando Bruce (left0 and Albay representative Edcel Lagman (right).
(UNTV NEWS)

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — A supplemental complaint was filed today at the Office of the Ombudsman urging the anti-graft agency to conduct a lifestyle check on incoming Albay representative Edcel Lagman.

Private complainant, Hernando Bruce, is asking the court to look into the alleged illegal wealth of Lagman amounting to 240 million.

Bruce says the Commission on Audit (COA) report indicates Lagman amassed unlawful riches through diversion of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2007-2009.

He says Lagman used his PDAF to fund projects by private entities related to his family.

These projects were done outside his district in Albay.

“His PDAF was diverted to other districts. He diverted them not to government projects, but to private organizations,” Bruce said. “He gave budget upon the request of his daughter who is the mayor.”

Attached in the complaint are pictures of Lagman’s alleged questionable properties including a first-class hotel, a gravel and sand rock crusher plant, a mansion and others.

To hide these properties, Bruce said some are hidden under dummy corporations of Lagman.

Bruce once helped in Lagman’s campaign when he first ran as Albay congressman in 1987.

With him during the filing of the complaint is Atty. Antonio Betito, Lagman’s losing opponent during the recent election.

Bruce and Betitio denied that the complaint is election-related.

For his part, Cong. Edcel Lagman maintains that the complaint is politically-motivated and it just stems from his failure to appoint the complainant to a position after the elections. He also denies having millions of illegal wealth.

“I have filed my assets, liabilities and net worth regularly and I have no hidden properties. They say I have a mansion, a hotel. I dont have any mansion or hotel. That is completely uncalled for, completely fabricated.”

Lagman also clarifies that those projects he funded outside his district did not come from his own PDAF but from the leadership fund of Congress.

Lagman says he is ready to file a counter affidavit once the Ombudsman formally asks for his statements.

(JOYCE BALANCIO/UNTV NEWS)

Ombudsman probes Duque, DOH execs over alleged COVID-19 response anomalies

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 17, 2020

Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Wednesday (June 17) ordered an investigation on Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque and other DOH officials over alleged irregularities in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response.

“I directed the creation of two more investigating teams who will jointly investigate alleged irregularities and anomalies committed by DOH officials and employees, including Health Sec. Francisco Duque, in relation to the response of the DOH during this pandemic,” he said.

Martires also tasked the investigating team to file complaints against any DOH official or employee who would refuse to cooperate with the investigation.

Among the accusations to be investigated include:

  1. Purchase of 100 thousand test kits by the Department of Health
  2. Delayed procurement of Personal Protective Equipment and other medical gears necessary for the protection of healthcare workers
  3. Alleged lapses and irregularities that led to the death of medical workers
  4. Rising number of deaths and infected medical frontliners
  5. Inaction in the release processing of benefits and financial assistance of “fallen” and infected medical frontliners; and
  6. Confusing and delayed reporting of COVID-19 related deaths and confirmed cases.

Malacañang said it respects the decision of the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation on Duque and other DOH officials.

“We will let the process run its course as we enjoin Secretary Duque & the entire DOH bureaucracy to cooperate with the investigation and respect the orders of the OMB,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Immigration chief vows to cooperate with probe, lifestyle check over alleged ‘pastillas’ modus

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2020

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente

MANILA, Philippines – Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente gave the assurance that he and his personnel will cooperate with any impartial probe and lifestyle check conducted by authorities in relation to the so-called ‘pastillas’ scandal at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In a statement on Sunday, Morente welcomed the graft and corruption investigation conducted separately by the Senate and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

He also expressed dismay over the allegations against some immigration officers stationed at the NAIA who were accused of receiving payoffs from syndicates of tour operators to facilitate the entry of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) workers and fugitives from China.

Immigration Officer Allison Chiong revealed the alleged scheme involving many of his colleagues in a Senate inquiry last week.

“As the Commissioner, I am very disappointed with the unauthorized activities of some personnel who continue to commit irregularities despite our determined efforts to get rid of the culture of corruption in the Bureau since 2016,” he said.

“On the other hand, I am certain that after this exposé, the intense public scrutiny and accompanying trial by the publicity that the Bureau has been subjected to will only ensure that we come out stronger as we weather yet another storm,” he added.

Morente said that all immigration officers accused of involvement in the scheme have been placed in the Administrative holding office without any privileges.

He assured that due process will be observed as they bring the accused to the court of justice.

“This incident and the corresponding consequences should serve as a strong warning and reminder to others not to engage in any unethical practices,” he said.

“As added measures to deter and expose any more illegal activities, we have included new protocols in the conduct of secondary inspections in open areas to improve transparency and installation of additional CCTV cameras in all areas of the primary inspectors,” he added.

He also urged members of the immigration bureau to remain professional and focused on performing their duties.

“As frontliners in border security, we must continue to remain unfazed by the hazards of the job, including the threat of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus disease 2019) outbreak to the health of Immigration Officers as well as the cloud of doubt arising from this issue that has put the reputation and character of every Immigration Officer in question,” Morente said.

Ombudsman lambasts journalist over disrespect, ‘SALN wiretapping’

Marje Pelayo   •   December 19, 2019

Ombudsman Samuel Martires

MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Wednesday (December 18) lambasted journalist Malou Mangahas for secretly recording him in an informal conversation regarding his decision not to release President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for 2018.

In a statement, Judge Martires stressed that what he had with Mangahas was never a formal interview but a brief, informal conversation while the journalist was being persistent, tailing him in the hallway of a hotel in Manila on Monday (December 9).

Martires said he was never informed by Mangahas that she was already interviewing him and worse, he was not informed that the journalist was already recording him.

“For the record, hindi humingi ng consent mula sa akin bilang interviewee si Ms. Mangahas para irekord ang aming kaswal na pag-uusap (Ms. Mangahas did not ask for my permission to record our casual conversation),” Martires said.

“Sa ganang akin, hindi lamang niya nilapastangan ang aking pagkatao ngunit nilabag pa niya ang Anti-Wiretapping Law (For my part, she did not only disrespect my person but she also violated the Anti-Wiretapping Law),” he stressed.

Martires continued saying Mangahas showed an “unethical behavior” unbecoming of a veteran journalist and writer.

Martires insisted that while he recognizes the public’s right to access SALNs of public officials, he is mandated to protect their rights as well under the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 6713.

In reaction to Martires’ claims, Mangahas posted on the website of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) her side of the story.

“Ombudsman Martires knew that as a public official with expertise and mandate on the issues raised, he was speaking face-to-face with a journalist with a legitimate journalistic purpose, on a matter of public interest. The conversation occurred in a public space and even with the full knowledge and in full view of his own personnel from the Office of the Ombudsman,” the PCIJ Executive Director said.

“PCIJ respects the views of Ombudsman Martires on this matter but respectfully insists, too, that all he has to do now is release President Duterte’s SALN for 2018, pending the long-awaited issuance of his new guidelines, and consistent with the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman as ‘the Protector of the People,’” she added.

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