By Czarina Nicole Ong
Former officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) faces graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan after the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict them over the P6-million public fund mess that happened in 2007.
Jesus Nieves and Marilou Tolosa, former officials of the DepEd Regional Office IX in Pagadian City, will be facing violations of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code.
The Ombudsman-Mindanao’s Field Investigation Unit revealed that in August 2007, Tolosa requested the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) to close an account denominated as the Belgian Integrated Agrarian Reform Support Programme (BIARSP).
The BIARSP account was kept for a special project funded by the government of Belgium. After the account was closed, the remaining balance of P157.93 was transferred to the DepEd Regional Office Trust Account.
But on November 29, 2007, upon authority of Nieves, PVB debited the amount of P6,164,424.23 from the DepEd Regional Office Trust Account and transferred the money to the closed BIARSP account.
On December 3 of the same year, the entire amount of P6.1 million was withdrawn by respondents from its supposedly closed BIARSP account.
In June 2012, the Commission on Audit issued a Notice of Disallowance against the withdrawal since they were made by the respondents without any supporting documents. However, no counter-affidavits were submitted by the respondents to the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman, in its resolution, deemed that the two DepEd officials acted in bad faith in the discharge of their official functions. The respondents also failed to explain how such public funds were spent and utilized.