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Villafuerte in hot water over P24.75M spent on foundation

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The Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Jr., to return to the government P24.75 million in funds spent on a foundation unlawfully created by the province.

In a recent 18-page decision, the COA also directed its Prosecution and Litigation Office to forward the case to the Office of the Ombudsman for further investigation on Villafuerte’s criminal liabilities.

Also held liable under 19 notices of disallowance were provincial budget officer Fortunato Peña; provincial treasurer Mario Alicaway; and provincial accountant Leticia Aliorde, as well as the members who sat in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in 2005.

The decision concerned the funds transferred to Camarines Sur Kaogma Foundation, Inc., from August 2005 to May 2006.

At the time, Villafuerte was provincial governor. The COA said he violated Section 89 of the Local Government Code and Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for entering into transactions with a foundation to which he also belonged as an incorporator.

Villafuerte denied the findings of conflict of interest, arguing that the foundation was a government corporation because the provincial government invested P1 million in initial paid-up capital.

But, the fact that Villafuerte, and not the provincial government, was named the incorporator of the foundation refuted this argument, according to the COA decision.

Considering the foundation a private corporation, the COA said the Sangguniang Panlalawigan did not have the authority to create private corporations, because even Congress did not have that power.

that a nongovernmental organization’s personality “does not overlap with that of the LGU.” Otherwise, it would lead to an “absurd situation where government becomes a partner of itself.