DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The Ombudsman indicted a former Basilan town mayor and a municipal official on allegations that they failed to remit the Government Service Insurance System premium contributions of the municipal employees.
The anti-graft body charged former Mayor Tahira Ismael and Municipal Treasurer Aida Ajijon of Lantawan, Basilan for violating Section 3 of the GSIS Act and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
According to the Sandiganbayan decision promulgated this month, both Ismael and Ajijon were sentenced to imprisonment of six to 10 years for graft and two to four years for violating the GSIS act.
In the charge sheets filed before the Sandiganbayan, the Ombudsman said the local executives deliberately failed to remit contributions from July 2001 to February 2003, amounting to P3,118,005.07.
The Ombudsman viewed such act as an “administrative lapse” and as a result, the loan privileges of employees of Lantawan were “suspended to the injury and prejudice of the municipal government.”
The office added: “Ismael tried to cover up for the non-remittance, explaining that Ajijon failed to prepare the corresponding vouchers for the remittance.”
But Justice Reynaldo Cruz, who penned the August 2 decision, did not buy the respondent’s “skewed argument.”
“The Local Government Code explicitly grants the municipal mayor the power to exercise general supervision and control over the activities of the municipal government, which carries the responsibility of ensuring that all executive officials and employees of the municipality faithfully discharge their duties and functions as provided by law,” reads a portion of the Sandiganbayan decision.
The court added that, “in effect the proximate cause of the non-remittance of the GSIS contributions can be traced from the failure of accused Ismael, as the municipal mayor, to exercise her power of general supervision and control over all the activities of the municipality.
Apart from imprisonment, the two government officials suffer from perpetual disqualification from holding public office and from practicing any profession.(davaotoday.com)