Ombudsman urged to investigate Albay congressman’s alleged illegal wealth
admin • June 7, 2016 • 5891
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)
MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco urged the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to submit to the Office of the Ombudsman their report on the alleged involvement of several lawmakers in anomalies at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“Pursuant to due process, we believe that the matter should be brought before the Ombudsman, given the limited jurisdiction of the PACC over officials in the Executive Branch, and not those in the legislature,” he said.
In a statement on Tuesday (December 29), Velasco said the President made it clear that there is a presumption of innocence and such announcement was not an indictment. He also remind the public “not take it as gospel truth that it’s true.”
Based on reports, Velasco said the House members included in the PACC list claimed that none of the representatives from PACC have invited them for questioning.
“It appears that the PACC has not made any investigation as to the veracity of the accusations against them since they belong to another branch of government, which is not within the authority of the Commission,” Velasco said. AAC
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang insists that the publication of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN depends on the Office of the Ombudsman.
This was the Palace’s response when asked whether the public will ever get to see the wealth records of the Chief Executive.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque advises the public to follow the regulations imposed by the Ombudsman on public access to SALN of government officials.
“May bago pong guidelines na sinusunod ang Office of the Ombudsman. Siguro po dahil po constitutional body ang Ombudsman, dapat pong sundin ang kanilang mga guidelines [The Office of the Ombudsman is following a set of guidelines. Since the Ombudsman is a constitutional body, their guidelines must be followed),” Roque stressed.
Unlike in past administrations, the Ombudsman is no longer allowing the public to see copies of the SALNs.
It can only be provided to a requester if he or she is the declarant or the person who filed the SALN or the duly representative of the declarant, a court order is present or the request is made by the Ombudsman’s field investigation units. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Samuel Martires has temporarily suspended the conduct of lifestyle checks among government officials and employees.
“Ngayong ako’y nag-assume bilang Ombudsman, ipinatigil ko muna iyong lifestyle check dahil matagal na ako may question. May duda ako sa probisyon ng batas tungkol sa lifestyle check,” Martires said.
[Now that I assumed as the Ombudsman, I ordered the suspension of lifestyle check because I personally have questions regarding it. I doubt the provision of the law on lifestyle check.]
During Tuesday’s (September 22) hearing at the Lower House on the 2021 proposed budget of his office, Martires clarified why he also imposed stricter rules on the release of a statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) of government officials.
Martires observed that many use such an important document for their own interest just to pin down their rivals.
The Ombudsman stressed the need to amend Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees because it is, most of the time, misconstrued.
“I was about to propose sa Congress to amend Republic Act 6713 because there are provisions there na hindi malabo pero parang walang hulog sa logic [which may be clear but illogical],” the former Supreme Court Justice said.
Martires believes no one has the right to judge any government employee for his or her priorities in life or if he or she chooses to live beyond his or her means.
“Let me explain why I suspended it. They say: ‘You are living beyond your means.’ There’s a government employee who earns about P50,000 a month and tries to save his money so he can buy his dream car. He was able to save money. When BMW announced a sale, he was able to give a down payment. He is able to pay for it monthly. Can we say he is living beyond his means? I don’t think so. Probably he must have distorted values. He must have distorted priorities,” he shared.
“Ano ang pakialam natin sa buhay ng may buhay kung hindi naman siya nagnanakaw? Kung wala siyang inaagrabyadong tao? Kung siya’y nangungutang lang para masunod ang layaw niya? [Why bother with another person’s life when he is not stealing anything? When he is not aggrieving anyone? If he borrows money just to buy himself luxury?] I mean this is something that we really have to re-define,” he added.
But the official clarified that his strict policy on the release of SALN is limited only to SALNs under the custody of his office.
He explained that a SALN has no use in several cases in court even in plunder but many are using it as well as the policy for lifestyle checking to malign the person of an employee of the government.
As for the agency’s budget, Ombudsman Martires expressed dismay over a slash in their proposed budget amounting to P4.6-B which they planned to use for hiring additional personnel for them to effectively execute their mandate.
Moving forward, the official wants to create a bureau that will focus on the administrative cases against public servants and to hire additional field investigators. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
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