Tacloban City—A veteran lawmaker in Eastern Samar is charged before the Office of the Ombudsman over alleged graft and corruption charges amounting to P5.37 million when he was a provincial governor 10 years ago.
Edilberto Grata Jr., a private citizen, accused Eastern Samar congressman Ben Evardone of violating section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he granted financial assistance to the Liga ng mga Barangay of the Province of Eastern Samar.
Grata, in his complaint, said that Evardone also “entered into an informal agreement with an airline company, SEAIR, to exclusively transport the barangay chairpersons to Luzon” in the guise of Lakbay Aral (Study Tour).
He said that the conduct of the seminar-workshop in Luzon in February 2009 was “to lure and entice the barangay chairpersons to travel to a prime tourist destination ensuring their attendance.”
Grata said that Evardone, who had expressed his intention to run as congressman in the 2010 elections as he was on his last term as governor during that time, also “personally gave” P1,000 to each barangay chairperson during the seminar.
Evardone’s alleged actions “caused undue injury” to the provincial government, Grata said in his Jan. 14 complaint.
According to Grata, his case “is anchored on the COA Resolution decided by the Supreme Court with finality finding the disbursement of public funds by Ben Evardone to be excessive, unjustified and unreasonable.”
But Evardone, who is running as governor in the 2019 elections, said that the filing of the case “is purely politically motivated.”
He added that “the fund in questions were an aid to barangays which transferred to the Liga ng mga Barangays through a memorandum of understanding.”
“It was the Liga that disbursed the funds, which were fully liquidated and supported by official receipts and airline tickets. So not a single centavo passed through me,” said Evardone in a press statement.