By Czarina Ong Ki
The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the six-month preventive suspension of San Andres, Quezon Mayor Sergio Francisco Emprese in relation to the reported illegal use of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) back in 2012.
Emprese is facing the suspension together with Municipal Budget Officer Renato Fontanil, Municipal Treasurer Royle De Leon Macandog, Municipal Engineer Pedro Ruiz Jr., Municipal Accountant Officer-in-Charge Sheila May Llanto, and former Acting Municipal Accountant Loui Senolos.
In 2012, the municipality, through Emprese, spent P878,374 for food commodities. The food commodities were reportedly distributed to seven barangays, and partly served to workers during the construction of farm-to-market road projects.
The amount was charged to the municipality’s LDRRMF, but the Commission on Audit (COA) observed that the expenses were “irregular, excessive and unnecessary,” especially since the disbursements for food were recorded without a declaration of state of calamity. The COA then ordered the municipality to refund the amount.
After carefully reviewing the documents involved in the case, the Office of the Ombudsman found that the respondents could be held liable for violation of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“As such, this Office finds sufficient basis to place herein respondents under preventive suspension pending investigation of the case,” the order read.
“Without prejudice to the final disposition of the instant case, this Office finds that there is a preliminary showing that the evidence of guilt of respondents Emprese, Fontanil, Macandog, Ruiz Jr., Llanto and Senolos for the offense of Grave Misconduct is strong,” it added.
If proven guilty, it would warrant that the respondents be removed from service since their continued stay in office may prejudice the disposition of the case.
The eight-page order was signed by Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval with the approval of Ombudsman Samuel Martires.