Mayor of storm-devastated town faces plunder raps


TACLOBAN CITY—The mayor of Guiuan, the southernmost town of Eastern Samar province that was badly devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013, is facing charges of plunder, graft and corruption at the Office of the Ombudsman for the alleged overprice of repair of 89 barangay halls and day-care centers amounting to P111.84 million.

Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales, who is seeking another term, said the timing of the filing made him suspect that it was politically motivated.

The complaint was filed by Kiriath Jearn Andrie Tumanda and Avelino Balagbis Jr. of Lapian ng mga Responsableng Anak ng Guiuan, who said the labor and materials for the projects were supplied by Gonzales’ brothers, Vicente Leo and Mark Pol.

The barangay halls and day-care centers were damaged when Yolanda, the world’s strongest typhoon, made its first landfall in Guiuan on Nov. 8, 2013.

Named respondents in the complaint were Gonzales and his two brothers; Pedro Noval Jr., director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for Eastern Visayas; and municipal engineer Artemio Salameda.

The mayor, a candidate of the Nacionalista Party, is seeking reelection against Floro Guimbaolibot of the Liberal Party and independent candidate Pax Ablay.

“How could they say that these were tainted with irregularities when only 70 to 80 percent of these projects were completed?” Gonzales asked when reached by the Inquirer through his mobile phone.

These projects were monitored and reviewed by the DILG, which funded the repair under its Reconstruction Assistance for Yolanda.

The department released P152.99 million for the repair of Guiuan’s barangay halls and day-care centers. But the complainants said the repair should cost only P41.143 million, or an overprice of P111 million.

Based on the estimate of the Department of Public Works and Highways, a one-story classroom building would cost only P16,698 per square meter, they said, but the cost of the construction of the day-care centers and barangay halls ranged from P1 million to P2.5 million.

This meant that the cost per square meters for these projects was estimated at P42,857, the complainants said.

Noval said he did not understand why he was included in the complaint which he described as a case of harassment. “It is only the Commission on Audit which could say if these projects were overpriced or not,” he said.

The official said this was the first time a complaint was filed against him in his 41 years in public service. He is due to retire this year.

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

Copyright © 2018,

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate: c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • #WalangPasok: List of class suspension on Tuesday, July 17
  • Tropical Depression ‘Henry’ makes landfall in Cagayan
  • Binay wants Boracay visitor capacity discussed before its reopening
  • PNP tags contractor as suspected mastermind in Ecija mayor’s murder
  • Trump declares ‘very good start’ to Putin summit
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao eyes ‘two or three fights’ more after Matthysse win
  • Croatia gears up to give heroes’ welcome to World Cup team
  • Pacquiao arrives home after WBA title conquest
  • PBA: San Miguel nears finals return, overcomes Alaska
  • Almazan fails to make presence felt in Rain or Shine’s game 1 loss
  • Lifestyle

  • When is a person really dead?
  • LOOK: 6 of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries include Sagada’s Hanging Coffins
  • Millennials more likely to post ‘deceptive’ vacation photos on social media, says report
  • Headed to Europe? Beware new breed of pickpockets, scammers called ‘hotel rats’
  • La Salle Dasmariñas students present study on Alzheimer’s Disease at Indonesian conference
  • Entertainment

  • Agents of ambush, July 17, 2018
  • A. Lipin, July 17, 2018
  • Love Knots, July 17, 2018
  • Tuldok, July 17, 2018
  • Jen’s Garden, July 17, 2018
  • Business

  • Managing risks on the road towards operational excellence
  • Federalism spells disaster for PH – economists
  • Dollars sent home by overseas Filipinos maintain uptrend in May
  • Enderun will tackle Water in its third Sustainability Summit
  • Rita Clifton to speak about the role of purpose in branding at Brand Boot Camp 2018
  • Technology

  • ‘White hat hacker’ aims to protect world, encourage women
  • Chinese students set sights on AI majors
  • Putin: 25 million cyberattacks thwarted during World Cup
  • Scientists hatch egg of rare Palawan turtle
  • Canary’s iPhone ‘Safety Button’ silently provides 911 with an accurate location
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, July 16, 2018
  • Surging rice prices
  • God of my youth
  • A courageous Filipino in the drug war
  • #DraftCarpio for Chief Justice
  • Global Nation

  • Duterte admin ‘not guilty of inaction’ in West PH Sea dispute—Palace
  • After 8 years, Filipino family in Dubai with no money, legal documents hopes for UAE amnesty
  • President’s stand on sea row needs review – Carpio
  • 4 of 5 Filipinos reject gov’t inaction on China isle-building
  • PDP-Laban to send 4-member delegation to North Korea

    • Cops arrest 6 ‘Basag Kotse’ suspects

      Read More

    • Honest naia cabbie cited for exemplary deed

      Read More

    • Mom of 5-year-old girl with leukemia looking for more good samaritans

      Read More

    • Compensation commission releases P2.3-M to aid Marawi soldiers

      Read More

    • PNP can’t always fool public with ‘nanlaban’ claims – solons

      Read More

    • Poll: Most dislike NFL protests and Trump comments

      Read More

    • Former Mexico governor wanted in US arrested

      Read More

    • US: Nobel Peace choice doesn’t change US stance

      Read More

    • California becomes first ‘sanctuary state’ for undocumented migrants

      Read More

    • Mexican photojournalist found dead after kidnapping

      Read More

    • Moscow gets 130 fake bomb calls, evacuates 100,000 people

      Read More

    • Frustrated police appeal for public’s help in Vegas case

      Read More

    • US states declare emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Nate

      Read More

    • Trump’s one-two punch hits birth control, LGBT rights

      Read More

    • Maute terror base overrun; priest rescued

      Read More