Dead Kalinga town mayor indicted by Ombudsman
Balbalan, Kalinga mayor Kenneth Dale Mangaoang has been charged with graft over an alleged questionable P5-million barangay electrification project implemented two years ago.
But there is a problem: Mangaoang has died on August 3 after an 11-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 54.
A report in Sunstar quoted an order issued by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales recommending that graft charges be filed against the late mayor and his brother-in-law Gerardo Versoza, the general manager of Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco).
The Ombudsman gave weight to the evidence presented by three complainants showing Mangaoang and Versoza conspired to tap Beneco for the town’s electrification project, which was found to be “disadvantageous” to the government.
The complainants said the project should have been undertaken by the Kalinga-Apayao Electric Cooperative (Kaelco), which serves the villages covered by the electrification program.
But Kaelco lost to Beneco in a bidding allegedly initiated by Mangaoang.
The Commission on Audit (COA) questioned Mangaoang’s move, in behalf of Balbalan, in buying materials for the project from Beneco, which was more than 400 kilometers from the town.
The purchase of materials was allegedly done without the approval of the Beneco board of directors, the National Electrification Administration and Energy Regulatory Commission.
Balbalan, it turned out, is not even covered by the Beneco franchise.
COA found out that the Balbalan municipal government paid an advance of nearly P300,000 for the installation of the main line, which is prohibited in the Local Government Code.
Total payments of P1,534,781.30, according to COA , were made in the name of Beneco employee Faustino Damian Jr. and not receipted by Beneco.
COA said the Balbalan town “could have saved on installation costs had it assigned the installation lines to the Kaelco considering that such is within their capability to perform and the benefits derived from the project would redound to the cooperative.”
The COA added Beneco “seemed to have acted as middleman, thus, there was a possibility that the goods were acquired at a higher cost to the disadvantage of the LGU.”
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