THE Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the plunder and graft complaints filed against former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the alleged diversion of P900 million in Malampaya funds to bogus projects in 2009.
In a 134-page resolution dated December 19, approved on December 23 and made public on Tuesday, the anti-graft office dismissed complaints against Arroyo and several others for insufficient evidence.
But charges were ordered filed against Janet Lim-Napoles, the businesswoman at the center of the pork barrel fund scam, as well as former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. and former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) secretary Nasser Pangandaman.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales told reporters on Tuesday the complainants—the Office of the Ombudsman’s field investigators and the National Bureau of Investigation—were unable to establish Arroyo’s link to the Malampaya fund mess.
“There was no nexus to the alleged commission of the crime of plunder, malversation through falsification of documents, and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” she said.
“Her participation there was to issue an executive order arising from Presidential Decree (PD) 910 which was issued by [former president Ferdinand Marcos]in 1976. She issued this Executive Order 848 allowing the disbursement of funds to calamity-stricken areas because under the PD, among other things, the President can determine the purposes for which the Malampaya fund can be spent,” she explained.
Arroyo’s act of signing the executive order did not necessarily mean she was involved in the alleged diversion of Malampaya funds, said the Ombudsman.
Also cleared were former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita, Dominador Sison Jr., Nilda Baui, Jesus Castillo, Lilian Español, Lorna Ramirez, Genevieve Uy, Editha Talaboc, Delfin Agcaoili Jr., Mark Oliveros, Edgar Valdez, Erwin Dangwa, Rodolfo Plaza, Rene Villa, Cynthia Dequiña, Roselle King, William Lim, Hector Ang, Francis Palmones Jr., Flordeliz Galido, Liza Maclang Ong, Corazon Dizon and Cecilia Caballero.
The Ombudsman found basis to file charges against 25 individuals.
Aside from Napoles, Andaya and Pangandaman, ordered charged were Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, former DAR Undersecretary Narciso Nieto, former DAR director Teresita Panlilio, former Candaba Mayor Rene Maglanque, Ruby Tuason, Jo Christine Napoles, James Christopher Napoles, Reynald Lim, Evelyn de Leon, Ronald Francisco Lim, Ronald John Lim, Eulogio Rodriguez, Simplicio Gumafelix, John Raymund de Asis, Rodrigo Galay, Alejandro Garro, Paquito Dinso Jr., Gerald Apuang, Napoleon Sibayan, Winnie Villanueva, Angelita Cacananta and Ronald Venancio.
The respondents, according to the Ombudsman, were “found to have acted in concert to divert the fund releases drawn from the P900-million Malampaya fund allocated by the DBM to the DAR in 2009, which was malversed and coursed through the NGOs controlled by Napoles and for which huge kickbacks and commissions were paid.”
The Ombudsman said the DAR downloaded the funds to the following non-government organizations: Abundant Harvest for People’s Foundation, Inc.; Bukirin Tanglaw Foundation, Inc.; Dalangpan Sang Amon Utod Kag Kasimanwa Foundation, Inc.; Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc.; Gintong Pangkabuhayan Foundation, Inc.; Karangyaan Para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Inc.; Kasaganahan para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc.; Kaupdan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation, Inc.; Masaganang Buhay Foundation, Inc.; Micro Agri Business Citizens Initiative Foundation, Inc.; Saganang Buhay sa Atin Foundation, Inc., and Tanglaw para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc.
Citing the testimony of whistleblower Benhur Luy, the Ombudsman alleged that Panlilio, Nieto, Pangandaman, and Tuason received kickbacks totaling P380.27 million for facilitating the release and the supposed illegal diversion of the Malampaya funds.
The Ombudsman also directed its field investigators “to conduct further fact-finding investigation on Ruby C. Tuason’s allegation that a one ‘Atty. Jesus ‘Jess’ Santos’ was her brother’s Malacañang contact who purportedly facilitated the release to the DAR of the P900 million Malampaya Fund…”
The office also wants to find out the identity of the recipient of P242.77 million coursed through Tuason as kickbacks or commissions. REINA TOLENTINO