Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fire hits SPDA central office amid graft controversy

DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- Fire razed three buildings, including one housing financial documents, at the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) central office in Catalunan Pequeño here on Monday, soon after a fund controversy broke out at the agency.
The SPDA is an attached agency of the Office of the President and is in charge of development programs for members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro communities in Mindanao.

Superintendent Rico Neil Kwantiu, Davao fire chief, said the fire began at the office of the SPDA auditor around 4:30 a.m. Monday and quickly spread to the logistics office and stock room.
"The fire also damaged three government-owned vehicles parked near the building," he said.
Kwantiu said arson investigators are still trying to determine what caused the fire and if any "essential" documents had been burned.

"Several personnel on duty at that time are also being investigated," he said.

SPDA administrator Sultan Yahya Jerry Tomawis was accused of financial irregularities a few days before the fire broke out. Tomawis has denied the allegations.

"All of the accusations are not true. I am not resorting to that (anomalies) just to enrich myself," Tomawis said.

He said his accusers, who have refused to be identified, should file charges before the Ombudsman so he can answer them rather than just exposing the matter to the media. Tomawis said he will face his accusers if given the opportunity and that he can justify why he had to spend more.

"They are trying to destroy my name," he said adding that under his leadership, the SPDA has been gaining ground with its programs and has 17 projects, mainly agricultural development, waiting to the implemented.

As to allegations of nepotism, Tomawis said his sons and a brother were already SPDA employees even before he became administrator.

Bainon Karon, a member of the SPDA board, said they were aware of the allegations against Tomawis. "It's premature, however, to make a judgment," she said.

It will be recalled that PGMA had deactivated SPDA in March 2003 for apparent dissatisfaction over the handling of the agency's funds. However, it was reactivated by the President in the later part of 2005 due to popular clamor from the MNLF and some Muslim leaders.

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