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Ombudsman junks raps vs Tabuk mayor

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Suspended Mayor Darwin Estrañero of Tabuk City in Kalinga can report to work on Monday.

The Office of the Ombudsman suspended Estrañero in connection with the alleged overpriced procurement of medical equipment and supplies during the COVID pandemic.

Estrañero was suspended for six months last year. He started serving his suspension in September.

In an 11-page decision issued recently, the ombudsman said allegations of overpricing in the Tabuk city government’s purchase of medical supplies and devices were” not adequately established” in the cases that were filed against Estrañero.

The ombudsman said the mayor cannot be faulted for acquiring the medical supplies.

“Although alleged to be abnormally higher than their usual prices, they were urgently needed for the protection and security of his constituents,” the ombudsman said.

In his motion, Estrañero presented the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s approval of the prices of medical supplies and devices that were submitted by the city health office.

He lamented that he was accused of taking advantage of the situation in his city when he said he only “prioritized the immediacy of the needs of my people.”