The Office of the Ombudsman has found Mayor Aniano Antalan of the Island Garden City of Samal, guilty of Grave Misconduct and ordered his dismissal from the service. He was also meted the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits, cancellation of eligibility and bar from taking the civil service examination. In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to Antalan’s salary for one year.
Antalan is also set to face trial for three counts of Indirect Bribery and two counts of violation of Section 3(b) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).
Records show that in December 2012, a Memorandum of Agreement was entered into by the local government, party list COOPNATCCO and the Samal Island Multi-purpose Cooperative (SIMC). The MOA pertained to the P5million Priority Development Assistance Fund of then party list representative Cresente Paez of COOPNATCCO. The MOA “tasked the local government to receive funds to be delivered to SIMC and to recommend the priority micro-finance projects and beneficiaries. On 28 December 2012, SIMC received the P5million funding. The Ombudsman uncovered that on the same day, SIMC gave Antalan P200,000.00 as “cash gift.” According to the SIMC resolution, “the board authorized the release of the cash gift to respondent as an expression of gratitude to him because he is always there for the cooperative especially in approving/signing of the MOA between the local government of IGaCOS with the coop.”
In his counter-affidavit, Antalan did not deny that he received the cash gift. He also admitted that he received P100,000.00 in 2014 and P100,000.00 in 2016 claiming that “they were given during the Christmas season.” He asserted that the amounts are small or of insignificant value, hence, falling under the exception of R.A. No. 3019.
In its Resolution, the Ombudsman stated that “the amounts that were given in 2014 and 2016 are not of nominal or insignificant value or mere tokens of gratitude under ordinary circumstances. It is manifest that the reason of SIMC’s board in giving the cash gifts was to acknowledge the help given by respondent in the approval of the MOA.”
“First, the MOA does not provide for such kind of funding to respondent. Second, if the amount is really intended for such purpose, then it forms part of the public funds which should have been turned over to the city government for it to be the subject of regular accounting rules and procedures. Verily, there is evidence to show that the money given was not intended for the implementation of SIMC’s micro-lending program but a cash gift at the full disposal of respondent.”