A number of residents of Pandan town, including political opponents and Pandanons living overseas, have filed a complaint before the Ombudsman against Mayor Honesto C. Tabligan II for alleged abuse of authority, harassment and other illegal acts.
According to various sources, the complaint dated Oct. 30, 2020 was filed on Nov. 18 at the Ombudsman while a copy was submitted to the Office of the President a day earlier.
Vice Mayor Eric Rodriguez, former Mayor Raul Tabirara, Councilor Eustaquio Rodriguez, Councilor John Willy Tabirara, Councilor Erickson Niola, former mayoral bet Jose Tidon, Libod barangay chairman Concordio Icawat, Hiyop barangay chairman Eddie de Quiroz and Tokio barangay chairman Helen Traquena were among the signatories in the complaint as well as residents of the town and those working and living abroad.
The complaint alleged that Tabligan halted the construction of a road to Hiyop point that was started by the previous administration for tourism purposes and then constructed his own tourist facility, dubbed as “Paraiso ni Honesto” on a 20-hectare property on the other side of the road.
The mayor used public funds to pay for laborers working on the resort and used vehicles of the local government in transporting materials to the site, with the complainants presenting as evidence copies of LGU payrolls of the laborers.
The resort is registered in the name of the chief executive’s wife, Ruth Icaonapo Tabligan, it was claimed.
On the other hand, the Fire Safety Inspection Certificate issued to the resort is questionable, the complaint stated, as the construction itself has no building permit.
Municipal Engineer Danilo Ibloguin, who acts as the building official, had issued a Notice of Violation against the mayor but the latter did not receive the notice, forcing the engineering office to send it via registered mail. No application for building permit has been filed by the resort owner until now, the Tribune learned.
The development of the former pasture land into a resort was also made without an approved land conversion from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The resort construction, it was said, continued even during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in a clear violation of IATF protocols prohibiting construction activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This, the complainants claimed, constitute abuse of authority and the use of government funds for personal interest.
It was also alleged that technical malversation was committed when the municipality, with the approval of the Sangguniang Bayan, diverted P3 million funding earmarked for the road opening at sitio Sabang in Balangonan, to the rehabilitation of a farm-to-market road at San Isidro.
Mayor Tabligan was likewise accused of harassment and oppression committed against a draftsman in the engineering department to whom he had allegedly sent threatening text messages for giving sensitive public documents to his political enemies.
One text message included as evidence quoted the mayor as saying he could buy justice and even buy the existence of the employee, whom he later transferred to the Office of the Mayor.
Tabligan was also accused of causing the alleged anomalous procurement of a multicab for P258,000.00 from a Virac supplier on Sept. 12, 2019, with the contract specifying no delivery date or contract duration.
The contract was later extended by 120 days after the mayor requested the supplier to deliver higher specifications through a letter dated Oct. 17 in what the complainants claim was evidence of collusion to justify the delay in delivery.
The vehicle itself was received by the LGU on Feb. 2, 2020, or 1,441 days after the contract approval, with BAT Trading receiving payment of P216,175.29 alleged without any liquidated damages deducted.
It was also claimed that the vehicle when delivered was still registered in the name of Angeli Grace-Doras of Imus, Cavite, showing that the supplier was acting as a middleman when he supplied the vehicle.
On the other hand, the complaint said that the chief executive caused the acquisition of an ambulance-cum-rescue vehicle and for the installation of “large electro mechanical siren” through a straight contract with Domain CA General Merchandize of Ligao City for the amount of P1,995,000.00 and P199,000.00, respectively, with the specifications tailored to fit that of a Hyundai vehicle.
The Hyundai vehicle in question, the mayor’s accusers claimed, is overpriced at P1.995 million as the listed price of the dealer is a little less than P1 million.
Last December 2019, the complaint said, the mayor, accompanied by his allies in the Sangguniang Bayan, but without the company of the MSWD officer, distributed relief goods amounting to P700,000.00 for victims of typhoon “Tisoy” and funded out of the LGU’s Quick Response Fund.
It added that the goods, as well as rice assistance of 5 kilos each worth a total of P1.15 million, were made to appear as “Christmas gifts” to Pandananons by Mayor Tabligan.
Tabligan misled the public by claiming that he used his own personal funds to pay for the completion of road to Langob, as appearing in a July 8, 2020 article on the Tribune based on an interview with the mayor, when in fact the project was funded by P3 million realigned by the Sangguniang Bayan in March 2020.
The mayor, his detractors stated, caused the approval of a timber cutting permit to a Tariwara resident allegedly for the lumber to be used in the construction of the Hiyop viewdeck.
He also frequently held press conferences at his resort in Hiyop, with fees of P5,000 each paid to media personalities using LGU funds and at one time used the same event to clear his name in a controversy involving his company, HTC Marketing.
The complaint, among others, called for the immediate suspension of Mayor Tabligan and other LGU officials and employees involved in the illegal transactions to pave the way for an impartial investigation.