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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, March 3, 2012
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Malversation charges filed  vs.
Sipalay mayor, 20 others

Criminal and administrative complaints for plunder, malversation of public funds and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were filed yesterday before the Office of the Ombudsman against Sipalay City Mayor Oscar Chua Montilla Jr., and more than 20 others, a press release from the Samahang Magdalo Inc. said.

The press release from SMI president Gary Alejano said Montilla Jr. was accused of allegedly stashing away P480 million or more of government funds from the period of 2002 to 2010.

The complaint was lodged against the mayor and the other accused by Rodolfo Divinagracia, a resident of Sipalay City and a member of Samahang Magdalo, the press release said.

Montilla could not be reached for comment as of press time yesterday.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Alejano said they support the complaint filed by Divinagracia, it added.

“I trust that under the auspices of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, this case will be expeditiously investigated if only to demonstrate that justice reigns in this country,” Trillanes was quoted as saying in the press release.

Alejano, who had lost to Montilla for mayor of Sipalay City in 2010, said political rivalry has nothing to do with the charges filed by Divinagracia. He said the case is the personal initiative of Divinagracia and he has nothing to do with it.

Divinagracia, in filing his complaint, requested the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the case at the Central Office instead of at the Ombudsman for Visayas.

Respondents in the complaint include the immediate family of Montilla Jr., who are: his wife, Juana Jamora Montilla, his ailing mother and former Mayor, Soledad Chua Montilla, and his sister Gina Montilla Lizares.

The accused also include, the present members of the Sangguniang Panglungsod, namely; Myrna Fernandez, Edmund Garinganao, Jonathan Eran, Ullysis Hisona, Dennis Galvan, Dionilo Bogtae, Alfredo Lim, Bardot Nobleza, William Selga, and Phraem Mediodia.

Also included are the present ABC Chairman, Henly Lirazan and Jaira Eran SK Chairman and impleaded are Sanderson “Sandy” Sumugat, Bebsie Villegas, Nathaniel Jan Celiz, Tomas Tronco, Philip Zamora, Eva Sabusap, Renato Manilla, Fernando Balbin, Eleazar Balbin, Simfroso “Nonoy” De La Cruz, Severo “Beroy” Hablado, Atty. Elmer Balbin, Janet Selga, Engineer Joel Presaldo, and Roquito Garcia.

The press release also said that in his complaint, Divinagracia claimed that Montilla Jr., his family and alleged cohorts acted in concert and in conspiracy with each other by pillaging and mismanaging the city of Sipalay, resulting in enormous loss of public funds.

He also said that in the complaint, he prayed that the accused who are in government service be meted suspension pending investigation.

Divinagracia was accompanied by his lawyers Argee Guevarra, Restituto Mendoza, Renecito Espiritu, and Ray Gilbert Espinosa, in filing the case before the Ombudsman, the press release said.*

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