Vice Gov. Zubiri to take a leave for US trip

MALAYBALAY CITY – (Bukidnon News Dispatch/05 October) Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. announced he will be leaving for the United States this month to accompany his wife Ma. Victoria F. Zubiri or “Vicky” for medical procedures there.

Zubiri told Bukidnon News he will fly to an undisclosed US city on October 21. The vice governor said he has to be the one to be with his ailing wife in the trip.

He said he will file a leave of absence from October 21 until his expected return on November 14.

The vice governor’s personal US trip comes before results are released to the public of a Commission on Audit special audit team’s investigation of  a graft complaint against him filed by an anonymous group calling itself the “Northern Mindanao Concerned Citizens Against Graft and Corruption.”

Sources said the COA investigating team issued notices of suspension of funds in August as a result of its investigation, but Bukidnon News is yet to get official copies of the documents.

The investigation included alleged fraud in the release of millions of Bukidnon’s 20-percent development fund from 2007 to 2010, the release of extra bonus to regular employees amounting to P80,000 each, alleged anomaly in the implementation of the Department of Agriculture’s fertilizer program, the management of the province’s health program for indigents.

Back in July, Zubiri denied committing fraud in any of the transactions cited in the complaint which he said he had welcomed even if it was unsigned.

He said that when he received the COA letter informing him of the unsigned complaint he wrote back and told the audit body to proceed.

Zubiri said next week he will formally answer the COA findings before he leaves for the US. Zubiri said he also intends to finish the marathon budget hearings at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, which started on October 5 with deliberations on the sources of income and the distribution of the 20-percent local development fund. Gov. Alex Calingasan proposed a P1.330 billion budget.

Sources said the board members agreed to hold the marathon hearings before the vice governor flies to the US. Bukidnon News sources said they intend to approve the budget only upon Zubiri’s return in November. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)

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