MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal from the service of Governor Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental after he was found guilty of Grave Misconduct for the anomalous utilization of the province’s 2013 budget.
The dismissal order carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and bar from taking the civil service examination.
The Ombudsman also ordered the filing of charges against Degamo for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).
In its findings, the Ombudsman found that in October 2012, Degamo submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) the proposed budget for 2013 which included an item for Intelligence Expenses in the amount of P10million. On 15 January 2013, the SP enacted the appropriation ordinance but the P10million intelligence fund was deleted.
In response, Degamo tendered his veto on the “questionable deletion or non-inclusion of the item on confidential/intelligence fund, which veto was not overridden by the SP.”
On 15 April 2013, Degamo issued a memorandum directing the release of the P10million intelligence fund “without further delay.” Records show that the next day, a cash advance for the payment of expenses of different activities related to intelligence operation in the amount of P10million was released to Governor Degamo.
Upon audit, the Commission on Audit (COA) Regional Office determined that the “cash advance was made in the absence of an approved appropriation ordinance in violation of Section 305(a) of the Local Government Code and Section 4(1) of the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.”
The Ombudsman ruled that “as appropriation ordinance no. 1, series of 2013, does not contain any item on confidential/intelligence fund, the release of the cash advance in the amount of P10million was not supported by the necessary appropriation.”
“This violates the Local Government Code and Government Auditing Code,” stated Ombudsman Morales. She explained that the codes “provide that no money shall be paid out of the local treasury except in pursuance of an appropriations ordinance or law. Degamo’s act of insisting for the release of the cash advance despite the apparent absence of the necessary appropriation is thus a clear badge of willful intent to violate the laws and established rules.”
Ombudsman Morales directed the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government to implement the order. Copies of the decision were also given to the regional offices of the Civil Service Commission, Commission on Elections, COA and the GSIS.-EZC/Newsline.ph