Tabogon mayor faces new rap before Ombud

MAYOR Zigfred Duterte of Tabogon, Cebu is facing another complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for alleged grave abuse of authority when he reportedly used one of his town’s heavy equipment for his quarrying business.

This is the second time that Duterte has been sued before the anti-graft office in less than two months this year.

Duterte, however, denied the allegations against him and believes that the charges filed against him are politically-motivated.

“Sige pa diay gihapon na sila karon? Sige’g pamolitika bisa’g naa tas pandemic?” he told SunStar Cebu.

(Are they still at it? Are they still playing politics even if we’re still in the middle of a pandemic?)

In his complaint filed on Friday, August 13, 2021, Fiel Montegrande, a former municipal employee, filed charges against Duterte for violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Montegrande said that on July 9, 2021, he went to the property of his wife’s relatives at Barangay Tapul, of the same town, to check on reports that Duterte’s quarrying operations had already encroached on their property.

He claimed he saw several heavy equipment owned by the municipal government, including a payloader and a gridder, that were being used in the mayor’s quarrying operations.

Montegrande said the payloader was used to load limestone to the dumptruck owned by the mayor while the gridder was used to scrape off the limestone from the mountain.

Montegrande said that aside from the fact that Duterte’s quarrying business is well known in the town, he also personally knew that Duterte bought the quarrying operations from another family living in Tabogon.

He also said he had video footage to support his claim.

Before Montegrande, Duterte’s former driver, Regie Ornopia, also sued the mayor for alleged abuse of power and using public funds for personal use.

Ornopia claimed that side from being Duterte’s driver, he also drove the mayor’s dump truck to haul crushed limestone from his quarry.

In a separate interview, Duterte said he intends to answer these allegations in proper forum. He has yet to receive a copy of the complaint.

He denied Montegrande’s allegations that he had used the town’s heavy equipment for his own personal gain.

“Maybe he (Montegrande) doesn’t know but I actually bought my own heavy equipment. But the heavy equipment that he might have seen may have been those operating in the town’s own quarry. In fact, we were able to secure a permit from the Province to quarry,” Duterte told SunStar Cebu.

He also believes that Montegrande was out to get him after he removed the latter from work as a contractual worker for the town’s Local Civil Registrar because of a complaint against him.

But in his judicial affidavit, Montegrande claimed he was not removed from his job but he resigned in May 2020. (WBS)