"Members of the provincial council find something wrong with the resolution adopting the Annual Investment Plan."
It seems the longer Eastern Samar Acting Gov. Marcelo Ferdinand Picardal stays in office, the more the future of the province is put at risk.
While he is now the subject of the ire of the provincial employees whom he reassigned to far-flung areas in Eastern Samar just days before the election ban on hiring, dismissing and reassigning of government personnel took effect, he was also discovered to have allegedly falsified documents to make it appear the 2018 provincial budget was approved by the provincial council.
Picardal is the subject of a complaint filed by all of the members of the Eastern Samar Sangguniang Panlalawigan who claim they found ‘congenital infirmities’ in the Provincial Development Council Resolution adopting the Annual Investment Plan for 2018, amounting to P1,283,751,803.
Per DILG Rules, the AIP is to serve as the legal basis for the approval of the CY2018 Appropriation Ordinance of Eastern Samar.
Allegedly to fast-track budget approval, the Sanggunian passed a resolution which approved in principle both the AIP and the Appropriation Ordinance, subject to the condition that the latter be deemed absolutely approved only upon submission of documents, within three days, that would have cured the said ‘congenital infirmities.’
The complainants allege Picardal, Acting Vice Governor Jonas Abuda and SP Secretary Franklin Robedizo surreptitiously disregarded the conditions and, on Feb. 23, 2018 submitted for review by the Department of Budget and Management Regional Office-VIII a falsified Appropriation Ordinance, with attached Certification issued through Fraud, Deceit and Misrepresentations.
The said Appropriation Ordinance was allegedly submitted without the signatures of complainants, which should have been affixed in accordance with the procedures, practice and tradition of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
With this, the complainants accuse Picardal, Abuda and Robedizo of “taking advantage of their positions, and committing the offense in relation to their office, in collusion and in conspiracy with each other, by means of fraud deceit, and misrepresentation,” in unlawfully and feloniously preparing, issuing and falsifying the Appropriation Ordinance No. 18-30, series of 2018.
Moreover, Picardal, Abuda and Robedizo allegedly made untruthful statements in the Certification they issued in support of the allegedly falsified Appropriation Ordinance.
The Certification allegedly indicates the submitted appropriation ordinance is a true and accurate copy duly approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in Jan. 5, 2018, “when in truth and in fact it was approved subject or conditioned upon the submission by the Acting Governor Picardal through the Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the lacking documents and requirements for the adoption and approval of the Annual Investment Plan for 2018.”
To make matters worse, the complainants allege that in the April 6, 2018 hearing on the 2018 Budget, they found a fake Resolution, supposedly to help “cure the congenital infirmities” in the AIP, prompting the body to withdraw the prior Resolution which approved in principle both the AIP and the proposed 2018 Appropriation Ordinance.
The complainants further allege that the presiding officer during the April 6, 2018 hearing, Abuda and Robedizo, failed to inform the body that Picardal already submitted a copy, allegedly falsified, of the proposed 2018 Appropriation Ordinance for review by the DBM RO-8, without complying with the conditions.
Thus, the complainants also accuse Picardal, Abuda and Robedizo for Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct, Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, Conduct Unbecoming of a Public Official characterized by betrayal of public trust in public service.
The complainants included as respondent DBM RO-8 Official Annabelle Echavez in their suit before the Ombudsman after the latter declared valid in part the allegedly falsified Appropriation Ordinance.
While it’s a good thing cases have been filed against Picardal and his cohorts, talking from experience, we could only expect these cases to drag for years.
Now it seems there is only one way to save Eastern Samar from the machinations of this man to the detriment not only of the provincial employees but to the whole province as well—kick him out office on May 13.