Cotabato City execs duped in P3M radio equipment deal

By Charlie Sease
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 07:25pm (Mla time) 07/19/2007

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Officials of this city acknowledged that the local government has been duped by still unidentified individuals apparently using the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) as a vehicle in a ghost transaction involving some P3 million in undelivered communication equipment.


Mayor Muslimin Sema said they have tapped the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to unmask and to file charges against the culprits, who forged his signature to make it appear his office received P1.5 million worth of VHF radio sets in 2004 and more “communication equipment” this year, worth another P1.5 million.


The documents showed that the funds for the equipment were ostensibly taken from the congressional fund of Representative Carlos Padilla of Nueva Ecija.


“The problem is that, we have not received them; not a single radio communication equipment had been delivered to us,” Sema said.


City hall officials said they discovered the anomaly when several DoTC “memorandum receipts” that bore Sema’s forged signature were sent to them.


The documents indicated that the city government received the equipment and that it was not time for officials to thank Padilla.


“Supposedly, we have to thank the donor [congressman], but in this case, we cannot because we don’t have the items with us, except for these receipts. We cannot enter this transaction into our book of accounts because we never received it,” Eduardo dela Fuente Jr., Sema’s secretary, said.


Sema said the NBI has started investigating the anomaly.


“This anomalous transaction has to be stopped. Somebody is using us here in the city government by making money out of the coffers of the national government,” he said.


Aside from the NBI, Sema said they also asked the help of the Commission on Audit to investigate the paper trail.


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