Mayor junks probe into alleged fraud

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

MAYOR Mauricio Domogan stressed the Baguio City Government cannot investigate the alleged irregularities during the 2013 elections saying a case has already been filed relevant to the issue.

"It might be misunderstood if we do that because there is already a pending case," he said stressing it is better for the city government to just wait for the progress and result of the case filed.

"We want to do [an investigation] but like I said, we have to wait," he closed.


On Monday, the City Council deliberated on the matter after Councilor Richard Cariño proposed a resolution calling for investigation into the alleged tampering of the May 2013 election ballots, election returns and ballot boxes under the custody of the City Treasurer's Office.

Cariño explained the investigation is to shed light on the issue, which involves and already compromised the integrity of the Treasury Office, which was tasked to protect and secure all election records.

Citing the affidavit of Margarita "Tingting" Cojuangco's former executive assistant Worthy Acosta obtained from the Commission on Elections, Cariño said the reputation of the office has already been marred.

"Now the integrity is no longer there because of the affidavit of Mr. Acosta," he said.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda understood the intention but emphasized cases have already been filed and people involved are already under preliminary investigation therefore having another one may no longer be necessary as it might just interfere and cause conflict on the part of the city government.

Councilor Peter Fianza expressed the same thoughts with Cariño saying the city government should make a move not necessarily on the whole issue but only on the alleged involvement of the City Treasurer's Office.

"I think we have to restore the integrity of our office and that will be the reason of the investigation," he said. "We are currently not after the penalty at the moment.

The body approved the resolution but is subject to opinion and approval of Domogan.

In Acosta's affidavit dated March 6, 2015, he said after a meeting with former Baguio Rep. Bernardo Vergara who was then accompanied by his press relations Ferdi Balanag, he and latter went to the two-storey warehouse in front of the Motorpool of the City Engineer's Office where the ballots were stored.

Following that day, they again went to the place.

Personnel from the City Treasurer's Office allegedly opened the warehouse's doors for them which enabled them to get some pieces of the ballots which Acosta tampered.

City Treasurer Alicia Onoza who faces charges for violations of Section 261 (z) 13 and 15 of the Omnibus Election Code in an interview with media on Monday maintained her innocence on the matter and said she has already availed legal assistance.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 30, 2015.

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