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Ombudsman clears former city treasurer

March 25 - 31, 2017

MAASIN CITY - The Office of the Ombudsman has given recourse and cleared former Maasin City Treasurer Eliseo Costillas who was earlier dismissed from service by the Ombudsman, in regards to the alleged anomalous procurement by the city government in 2007 of 40-sets of long range telephones which COA and city hall records show were worth ten million pesos.

The Ombudsman, in an order dated February 2, 2017, has granted the motion for reconsideration of the former city treasurer and dropped the charge of “Grave Misconduct”.

The Ombudsman’s recent decision would also return to Costillas all government benefits and his right to hold public office and civil service eligibility.

Upon review the anti-graft office’s order stated that Costillas’ acts were found to be purely ministerial and part of his duty as city treasurer. The ombudsman further explained in its order that nothing on the record shows that Costillas participated in the alleged anomalous procurement of the long-range telephone systems.

“A signature or approval appearing on a voucher, check or warrant isn’t enough to sustain a finding of conspiracy among respondents as it does not appear that Costillas had foreknowledge of any irregularity perpetuated by his co-respondents…” the Ombudsman order said. But unlike Costillas, the Ombudsman order continued to uphold its decision towards six former members of the city government’s bids and awards committee and denied their motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.

The ombudsman’s original decision dated September 3, 2015, found then Mayor Maloney Labata Samaco administratively absolved from the graft case, but found Costillas and six others city officials administratively liable for the alleged overpriced long range telephone city-hall purchase.

In an interview, the Office of the Ombudsman claim that since the motion for reconsiderations have already been decided by the ombudsman, the order will be given due course and proceed, except for the former mayor and treasurer, unless the remaining six respondents find another legal recourse.

A close counsel of the former treasurer claims that the order was justiciable, as Costillas had no real hand in the proposal, bidding and award process for the purchase of the long-range telephones.

The “long-range telephone” procurement case has brought public attention toward the bids and awards procedure of the city government in terms of its public procurement process and the LGUs use of public funds.(By MARK L. RIMAS)






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