NAGA CITY (18 December) – A FORMER NAGA CITY Public Market superintendent is facing multiple charges of “malversation of public funds through falsification” with a reported amount of P 1.9 Million, even as a City legal officer revealed that uncovered documents from the city market indicated that the lost amount will exceed what was earlier reported.
Naga Police Community Precinct 1, Police Chief Insp. Nicasio Garcia said that former market superintendent Frederick Ignacio Arias, 44, a resident of Marasigan St., Sabang in this city, is currently detained at the BJMP District Jail at Barangay Del Rosario here while awaiting arraignment after a Warrant of Arrest was served on the suspect last December 11.
The warrant was issued with “no bail recommended” by RTC Branch 23 Judge Valentin E. Pura, under Criminal case no. 2009- 0395.
Asst. City Legal Officer, Atty. Imee M. Abardo Estrada, said that Rowena Delos Santos, another city market employee is also charged with a similar malversation case but currently is reported to be at large.
Estrada revealed that after the unsolved slaying of Naga market superintendent Francisco Gaspar Ojeda in Aug. 12, 2008, former Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo ordered an investigation on the book of accounts of the public market.
She added that Robredo had tasked a probe committee consisting of the City legal office, the Treasurer and Budget Offices to look into the market revenues and accounts; the probe discovered that huge amounts of cash were lost during the time of Arias
In 2009, both Arias and Delos Santos were reportedly dismissed from the City government service after Mayor Robredo slapped them with administrative charges and forfeited all their employment benefits.
Estrada also said that the two accused employees have offered to amicably settle the malversation case by payment of the lost revenues, but Mayor Robredo reportedly declined the offer and pursued the charges against the two.
Meanwhile, Arias’ case has been marred with controversy with police investigators saying that in all probability Ojeda had knowledge of the funds allegedly taken by Arias, and might have been the motive in the former’s slay; however, no sufficient evidence has so far linked Ojeda’s killing to Arias.
In the meantime, with the discovery of the lost market revenues, fires had hit the Naga City public market in November 2008, December 2009 and in January 2010.