The Office of the Ombudsman maintained its ruling finding sufficient grounds to file graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan against five former lawmakers in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel fund scam.
In five separate Orders, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales directed the filing of charges against former Representatives Rozzano Rufino Biazon of Muntinlupa City, Rodolfo Valencia of Oriental Mindoro’s first district, Marc Douglas Cagas 4th of Davao del Sur’s first district, Arrel Olaño of Davao del Norte’s first district, Arthur Pingoy Jr. of South Cotobato’s second district, and several others.
Likewise ordered charged were Janet Lim-Napoles, representatives of non-government organizations (NGOs) as well as Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Zenaida Ducu, officials of the Department of Budget and Management and implementing agencies Technology Resource Center (TRC) and National Business Corporation (Nabcor).
The five cases stemmed from separate complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Levito Baligod.
In June last year, the Ombudsman found sufficient grounds to file charges against the respondents.
“After a considered review of the case records, this Office finds no merit in the motions for reconsideration as the grounds raised do not warrant a reversal or modification of the assailed Resolution,” Morales said.
She added that the findings in the COA audit report confirm the whistleblowers’ testimonies.
According to the Ombudsman, the former lawmakers poured their PDAF to NGOs supposedly run by Napoles for projects that allegedly turned out to be non-existent.
The respondents also allegedly received kickbacks from their pork barrel-funded projects.
The Ombudsman alleged that Biazon received P1.95 million as “rebates” through his supposed agent Ducut, who is a former Pampanga lawmaker; Valencia got P2.4 million; Cagas, P5.5 million; Olaño, P3.175 million and Pingoy, P7.05 million.
In his motion for reconsideration, Valencia argued that “he is neither the custodian nor controller of the funds, nor the head of the agency who has the power to authorize the payment of PDAF funds.”
But Morales junked the appeal and held that “the indictment against them stands.”
She added that “for a finding of probable cause to stand, it suffices that to the prosecutor’s mind, the act or omission complained of constitutes the offense charged and the respondents are probably guilty.”