Andaya, Baterina face ‘pork’ raps

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The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to file graft and malversation charges at the Sandiganbayan against former Ilocos Sur Rep. Salacnib Baterina and former Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. in connection with the alleged anomalous use of the former’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel in 2007.

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Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Wednesday ordered the filing of charges against Baterina, Andaya Jr., Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare, former employees of the Department of Budget and Management.

Former Technology Resource Center (TRC, formerly the Technological Livelihood Resource Center or TLRC) Director General Antonio Ortiz, former TRC Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan as well as former TRC employees Maria Rosalina Lacsamana, Marivic Jover, Francisco Figura, and Maurine Dimaranan, and Belina Concepcion were likewise ordered charged.

Also included were Janet Lim-Napoles, former Energy Regulatory Commission chief Zenaida Ducut, Godofredo Roque, Evelyn De Leon, Carlos Soriano and France Mercado.

“[T]he complaints, as well as the testimonial and documentary evidence provided details which evidence the widespread misuse of the PDAF allotted to Baterina,” Morales said.

She added that Baterina’s PDAF “was coursed through a complex scheme for the supposed livelihood projects for the 1st district which turned out to be inexistent or ghost projects.”

Baterina was a representative of the first district of Ilocos Sur.

Andaya, now a Camarines Sur representative, was included as a respondent “for his issuance of the subject Sub-Allotment Release Orders and Notices of Cash Allotment even if the required project profiles and endorsements from the implementing agencies were not obtained in violation of DBM National Budget Circular No. 476, thus making the funds easily accessible to the TLRC and bogus NGOs,” the Ombudsman said.

The Office of the Ombudsman found that from January to February 2007, the DBM released P35 million as part of Baterina’s PDAF intended for livelihood and farm input projects.

Baterina allegedly requested that the implementation of the projects be coursed through the non-government organizations Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI) and the Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Inc. (KMFI).

He also allegedly requested that the funds be downloaded to the TLRC as implementing agency, the Ombudsman said.

But the office discovered that none of the projects were implemented.

According to pork scam witness Benhur Luy, Napoles gave commissions worth over P7.5 million to Baterina and that Ducut allegedly acted as Napoles’ agent for Baterina.

“Ducut was tasked by Napoles to look for lawmakers willing to deal with Napoles in connection with the PDAF scheme,” the Ombudsman quoted Luy in his statement.

The Ombudsman added that the Commission on Audit observed lapses in the use of the fund such as the supposed lack of public bidding in the selection of the NGO; absence of documents supporting the actual use and liquidation of public funds, and; lack of a list of beneficiaries, official receipts “with municipal agriculturists in 11 municipalities denying receipt of any livelihood materials or farm inputs.”

Morales also ordered the filing of a complaint for Corruption of Public Officials under Article 212 of the Revised Penal Code against Napoles.

Baterina also faces indictment for direct bribery.

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