By Ben Serrano
Butuan City Mayor Ronnie Vicente Lagnada and other local officials have been charged with graft and unethical practices by a radio commentator for allegedly abandoning the P253-million Butuan City Poly Sports Complex, the region’s biggest multi-sport complex which is based in the city .
Aside from Lagnada, also charged in the Office of the Ombudsman were Vice Mayor Jose “Joboy” Aquino II; Omar Andaya, Rhema Burdeos, Cherry Mae Busa, Glen Carampatana, Ferdinand Nalcot, Cromwell Nortega, Derrick Plaza, Vincent Rosario, Ernest John Sanchez and John Gil Unay, Sr., all members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
In his complaint filed on Aug.3, Salvador Cupin accused the respondents of violating Section 3 (e) Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) for causing undue injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.
In addition, they were charged with violating Republic Act No. 6713, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Cupin said he represented Butuan residents who complained that the city officials had compromised the taxpayers’ interests by willfully, unlawfully and feloniously abandoning the sports complex, a landmark project of then Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr.
He pointed out that the Republic Act No. 7160 (The Local Government Code) mandates local government units to maintain, preserve, safeguard, adopt adequate measures to conserve and put in better use for productive purposes government-funded projects.
Cupin attached to his complaint photos showing the deteriorating condition of the sports complex, which was used in the 2016 Caraga Regional Athletic Meet .
In abandoning the project, Cupin alleged Lagnada and his allies were motivated by vengeance and deep-seated feelings against the previous administration, that resulted in a waste of public funds or property, to the detriment of Butuanon taxpayers and grassroots sports programs of the city government.
“The funds used in building the sports complex are not their private money, it is coming from pockets of Filipinos through taxes. Why abandoned and neglect this property and did not put to use where it was intended for? Just because it was build during their enemy’s administration?It’s wrong,” he said.
“I hope this will also served as lessons in many other politicians as many elected officials abandoned projects initiated by their political rivals and enemies just only to discredit their rivals make it appear their political rivals not only helpless but picture them as corrupt the reason why they did not continue or maintain the project,” Cupin added.