Did Tolentino et al. break anti-graft rules COA wants to know

State auditors from the Commission on Audit (COA) want some Capitol officials to explain why acquiring unused culverts from the controversial Balili property in Barangay Tinaan, Naga City, should not be considered a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. 3019).

The COA sent a letter to Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III asking the latter to direct Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino, Provincial General Services Office (PGSO) chief Jone Sepe and Provincial Accountant Ramon Dumayac Jr., to appear before their office to answer queries.

The two-page document, signed by COA-Cebu province Audit Team Leader Lolita Mercedes, also required Tolentino, Sepe and Dumayac to furnish their office the Requisition and Issue Slips for the culverts, specific COA Rules and Regulations allowing the transaction, the provincial government’s guidelines on donating state-owned and funded properties to private entities, to name some.

COA gave Tolentino, Sepe and Dumayac until Feb. 15 to comply with their request.

Meanwhile, Davide said he was dismayed by Tolentino for not informing him beforehand of his plans to acquire at least 10 culverts from the Balili property.

“I was upset on Atty. Mark to the point that I was mad at him. I talked to him and told him that I was really upset. In the first place, I was not aware of this. When we talked, all of this happened in August… Nahiubos gyud ko (I’m really upset),” said Davide.

The controversy surfaced last Feb. 7, when it was found out that Tolentino did not only acquire culverts from the Balili lot without permission but also hired Capitol workers to bring them to his village.

In an earlier interview, Tolentino admitted that he got the culverts as flood-prevention measures for their village, and received a go-signal from PGSO where Sepe sits as its head.

He also explained that the around 10 Capitol employees were paid by their village association.

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