WITH a little over five weeks until the elections, two candidates for Mandaue City mayor will have to answer complaints filed at the anti-graft office.
Rep. Gabriel Luis Quisumbing (Cebu Province, 6th district) is facing a criminal complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas over the purchase of multicabs worth over P4 million, allegedly from his family’s company, using his pork barrel funds in 2011 and 2012.
Like Quisumbing, Mandaue City Councilor Emmarie Ouano-Dizon is also facing criminal and administrative complaints before the ombudsman for her alleged failure to give “true details” of her income in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth in 2012 and 2013.
For both Quisumbing and Ouano-Dizon, this is their first attempt to become mayor of Mandaue City, which has nearly 190,000 voters.
The complaint against Quisumbing, filed by Roberto Letaba of Barangay Banilad, accused the congressman of violating Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and the Constitution.
“It is a clear case of conflict of interest and constitutes graft,” read Letaba’s complaint.
In a press statement, Quisumbing’s camp expressed confidence that the graft case will soon be dismissed. The congressman, through lawyer Elaine Mae Bathan, said they will answer the allegations once they receive a copy of the complaint.
“At this point, however, the general public, the people of the sixth district and particularly the Mandauehanons, deserve to know the truth behind this harassment case filed against him,” said Bathan in a statement.
She said that Quisumbing did not have any participation in the bidding process, which the Province’s bids and awards committee conducted.
The purchase of the vehicles was above board, said Bathan.
The vehicles were delivered to the concerned barangay beneficiaries and have continued to help many of the constituents.
“Sadly, such a noble project is being used by his detractors to smear his honest and noble desire to serve. The timing of the filing is obviously politically motivated considering the recent results of the survey,” said Bathan.
Letaba, a former labor leader and freelance legal researcher, said he filed the complaint as a “concerned citizen and taxpayer.”
In his complaint-affidavit, Letaba said he saw the barangay multicabs on the streets bearing the name and photo of Congressman Quisumbing. He also took photos of the vehicle and plate signs that bear the name Norkis, a company owned by the congressman’s family.
Letaba suspected that funds used to purchase the multicabs came from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Quisumbing.
Upon verification, Letaba, said he found out from a report of the Commission on Audit (COA) in 2013 that Quisumbing “indeed channelled his pork barrel funds” to the Province to purchase the multi-cabs from the company owned by the congressman’s family.
Government auditors pointed out the procurement was done without a public bidding, said Letaba.
The COA report said that the Provincial Government bought 19 multicab “ambuvans” for a total of P4,731,000 using Quisumbing’s pork barrel in 2011 and 2012. No public bidding was conducted, the audit report said.
Citing government vouchers, Letaba said the units were purchased from Porta Coeli Industrial Company Inc., an affiliate of Norkis Group of Companies.
Records from the Securities and Exchange Commission show that Porta Coeli belongs to the family of Congressman Quisumbing, said Letaba.
In the case against Dizon, complainants Lito Ferrater and Allan Bisquera filed the complaint yesterday morning, accusing the councilor of misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service, and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“The instant complaint is alarming and reprehensible because the acts of the respondent show a grand design, years in the making, of acquiring pecuniary interest by taking advantage of family relations and deliberately withholding such interest by perjuring her SALN,” the complaint read.
Dizon, in a text message to reporters, said she has not yet received a copy of the complaint.
“But if it concerns my SALN, I am confident that I declared what I needed to declare,” said Dizon.
In their affidavit, the complainants said that Dizon did not declare in her 2012 and 2013 SALN the proceeds of a property that the councilor and her husband, Nixon, sold to a vehicle manufacturer in 2012, reportedly amounting to P20 million.
Dizon’s total net worth rose by about P1 million, from P37.075 million in 2012 to P38.12 million in 2013, the complainants said.
The councilor declared in her 2012 SALN a commercial lot in Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City with an assessed value of P10 million.
But the complainants said that the Dizon couple sold their property to Foto Motor Philippines for P20 million last July 17, 2012.
“The facts narrated by respondent in her 2012 and 2013 SALN are absolutely false because there was no indication of the sale of the declared property to hide the realization of income,” read the complaint.
The complainants said that the councilor “made a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood” in her 2012 SALN by making it appear that there was no sale of her declared asset, which was sold on July 17, 2012.
“Respondent’s falsity in the declarations made under her SALN are dishonest, constituting misconduct, and are prejudicial to the best interest of the service,” the complaint read.
The complainants asked the ombudsman to place Councilor Dizon under preventive suspension while she is investigated. Both her late father Thadeo and her grandfather Alfredo each served three straight terms as mayor of Mandaue City.