Ex-NCIP head refutes charges, says UN trip was official
This refers to the news item titled “Ex-NCIP head charged” (News, 2/10/14).
I am charged with malversation of public funds and violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) for using funds of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to attend the UN General Assembly session on Sept. 13, 2007. This was the same assembly that voted on the proposed United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Let me refute the charges based on the resolution of the Ombudsman itself.
The resolution admits: “Respondent was directed to file his counter-affidavit, but the Order sent to his residence was returned unserved: … the complaint and attachment sent through registered mail was unserved with notation ‘RTS Party Moved.’”
My Motion for Reinvestigation was denied, depriving me of my constitutional and statutory right to due process. Is it because I was a high-ranking official of the previous administration?
The funds in question were allegedly advanced in bad faith, if not with gross inexcusable negligence, and spent for my personal use; besides the trip was not official.
One function of the NCIP is “To represent the Philippines’ ICCs/IPs in all international conferences and conventions dealing with indigenous peoples and other related concerns” (Sec. 44[q] RA 8371).
How could there be misappropriation when my cash advance was used to perform this particular function of the NCIP? It was for an official trip on authorized official time.
How could there have been bad faith and how could it have caused injury to the Philippine government when I attended the UN General Assembly for the above purpose? The chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues then, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, recalled in her published account:
“The assembly then proceeded to vote and the recorded vote was 143 in favor, 4 against… and 11 abstained …. Mr. Insigne spoke on behalf of the Philippines and said that his delegation’s expression of support was premised on the understanding that the right to self-determination shall not be construed as encouraging any action that would dismember or impair territorial integrity or political unity of a sovereign or independent State. It was also based on the understanding that land ownership and natural resources were vested in the State.”
Bad faith was negated by my request to the Office of the President to exempt my foreign travel from Administrative Order No. 103-2004. I executed the corresponding Affidavit of Undertaking to refund the funds if denied.
My cash advance has been fully settled through payments and by offsetting receivables due from NCIP, as approved by former NCIP chair Roque Agton Jr.
I have always followed the admonition of my ancestors to always act with honor and dignity. Out of all my foreign trips, I never asked for reimbursement for expenses incurred, such as for hotel, food, etc., even in instances where reimbursement was allowed.
—EUGENIO A. INSIGNE, MNSA,
former chair, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (2007-2010)
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