Ombudsman junks plea of ex-Ecija mayor over P102M graft raps

September 08, 2019

SAN ANTONIO, Nueva Ecija  -- The Office of the Ombudsman junked the motion for reconsideration filed by former mayor Antonino R. Lustre and 11 others on the March 16, 2018 resolution issued by the anti-graft court which found probable cause to indict all the accused before the Sandiganbayan for graft over P102-million worth of “ovepriced” locally-funded projects.

In its  decision, the Ombudsman denied the respondents’ MRs after they presented a rehash of their arguments raised earlier in their defense and for their failure to introduce newly-discovered evidence that would warrant a modification or reversal of the body’s assailed resolution.

The filing of the MR by the respondents was done after the anti-graft body ordered the case elevated to the Sandiganbayan after finding probable cause in the complaint for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act filed by incumbent Mayor Arvin C. Salonga, who after assuming office  uncovered numerous “highly anomalous and unlawful transactions” committed by the previous administration under Lustre.

Salonga cited the alleged anomalies as the construction of a P52.1-million two-story commercial building, a P45-million slaughterhouse and integrated terminal complex and the purchase of an agricultural lot for P5 million in Bgy. Sta. Cruz.

Aside from Lustre, his other co-accused were former municipal engineer Renato Bustamante, ex-municipal treasurer Daisy Pili, former municipal budget officer Mercy Reyes, project engineer Roberto Odulio, ex-town councilor Julito Galang, administrative assistant III Constancia Salonga, spouses Julito and Marietta Morales, all of San Antonio town; Eloy Eclar, general manager of MB Eclar Trading and Corporation, Michael Galang Jr., and PAPISSS Inc., represented by engineer Pedro Perez.

The Ombudsman joint order was signed last Sept. 24, 2018 by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard A. Mosquera and approved by Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires on June 11, 2019.