By Czarina Nicole Ong
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo from office over the unauthorized release of intelligence funds in 2013.
Aside from dismissal, Morales also ordered the filing of graft charges against Degamo before the Sandiganbayan.
Degamo’s dismissal carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and bars him from taking the civil service examination.
In October, 2012, Degamo submitted to the SangguniangPanlalawigan (SP) a proposed budget for 2013 which included an item for Intelligence Expenses in the amount of P10 million.
On January 15, 2013, the SP enacted the budget but removed the P10-million intelligence fund Degamo requested. As a result, Degamo vetoed the “questionable deletion or non-inclusion of the item on confidential/intelligence fund, which veto was not overridden by the SP.”
On April 15, 2013, Degamo issued a memorandum demanding the release of the P10-million intelligence fund “without further delay.” Because of this, a cash advance for the payment of expenses of different activities related to intelligence operation in the amount of P10 million was released to Degamo the very next day.
Unfortunately, the Commission on Audit (COA) Regional Office found several mistakes in the release of the intelligence funds. The COA 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 the release of the funds was not supported by the necessary appropriation in violation of the Local Government Code and Government Auditing Code which provides 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.”