Dumanjug mayor nabbed, freed on P30,000 bail bond

POLICE arrested Dumanjug, Cebu Mayor Efren Guntrano “Gungun” Gica on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, for graft. He promptly posted bail and was released pending court hearing.

His arrest stemmed from a complaint filed against Gica before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for graft and corruption after he hired Filipino singer Bamboo Mañalac during the town’s 2015 fiesta without undertaking a bidding.

The complaint was filed by former Dumanjug mayor Nelson Garcia, Gica’s long-time rival and critic.

Town police members led by Police Major Ardiolito Cabagnot arrested Gica at his house in Barangay Poblacion at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

Gica was arrested based on a warrant issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Reginal Fuentebella of Branch 59 of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.

The warrant was based on a complaint filed against Gica for violating Section 3 of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Gica was released on the same day after he posted a P30,000 bail bond before the RTC in Barili town, Cebu.

The Gica law firm, which represents the mayor, has asked the court to give them a copy of the complaint or the document that was used as basis for issuing the arrest warrant.

It filed an urgent ex-parte motion before the RTC Branch 59 in Negros Occidental on January 8, 2020, the same day the mayor was arrested.

Police Colonel Roderick Mariano, Cebu Police Provincial Office director, denied that politics was behind Gica’s arrest, adding that they were merely following the court’s mandate.

He said Gica went with the local police to have himself booked and turned over to the court.

Mariano said Gica has an arrest warrant that police served on him. “We do not know the merits of his case,” he said in Tagalog.

He added that the arrest warrant was received by the Dumanjug police last month but they didn’t implement it as Gica was on vacation at the time. Upon learning that Gica had returned home, police immediately served the warrant.

For his part, Gica told SunStar Cebu he was confident the case against him will be dismissed.

But, he admitted, he was embarrassed to know his mugshot taken by police was circulated on social media.

This was not the first time Garcia’s anti-graft complaint against Gica had prospered.

In 2014, Gica was sacked as Dumanjug mayor after the anti-graft office found that he committed serious dishonesty and grave misconduct for tampering with a restaurant receipt amounting to P11,435 and bloating the amount to P21,435.

Gica appealed the matter before the Court of Appeals and was eventually reinstated as town mayor in 2019. He ran and won in the May 2019 elections. (AYB, ANV/JKV)