Arroyo, Napoles, DAR execs charged with plunder over Malampaya fund release

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Former President Gloria Arroyo is facing her second plunder case together with suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) over irregular Malampaya fund releases worth P900 million

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In a 39-page complaint she submitted Thursday to the Office of the Ombudsman, Secretary Leila de Lima recommended the review of the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that implicated the former president in the Malampaya fund releases.

Charged with Arroyo and Napoles are former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita; former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) secretary Nasser Pangandaman; former DAR undersecretary Narciso Nieto; incumbent Presidential Agrarian Reform Council head Teresita Panlilio; former Budget secretary and now Rep. Rolando Andaya of Camarines Sur; Budget undersecretary Mario Relampagos; mayor Rene Maglanque of Candaba, Pampanga; and DAR officials Angelita Cacananta, Nilda Baui, Dominador Sison Jr., and Ronald Venancio.

Evelyn de Leon, Jesus Castillo, Lilian Español, Genevieve Uy, Ronald John Lim, Euloguo Rodriguez, Lorna Ramirez, Ronald Francisco Lim, Simplicio Gumafelix, and John Raymund de Asis and Ruby Tuason, personalities linked to Napoles were also named respondents.

De Lima said three Agrarian Reform executives received P337.77 million in kickbacks from Napoles between 2009 and 2010.

Pangandaman received P75 million, Panlilio P14 million, and Nieto P6 million. Tuason received P242.77 million from a “still unidentified principal.”

According to the NBI, Napoles managed to get her hands on the Malampaya special fund as early as July 2009.

She allegedly instructed her staff to manufacture bogus documents to be submitted to the DAR from mayors requesting assistance in projects for farmer-beneficiaries.

The documents included letter-requests and memorandum of agreements bearing the forged signatures of the mayors.

Nieto signed on behalf of the DAR and released the checks to Napoles-linked non-government organizations (NGOs).

The NBI said Napoles could not have pulled off the scheme if Arroyo had not issued executive order (EO) 848, which allowed releases from the Malampaya fund.

Arroyo’s directive only took effect on October 13, 2009 or five days from October 8, 2009, when Ermita told Andaya that Arroyo had approved the release of the P900-million to DAR.

“The letter did not specify what amount from the [Malampaya Special Fund] is to be allotted to DAR,” the complaint of the NBI read.

It added that the fund was supposedly for relief operations, rehabilitation and reconstruction in farming areas devastated by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

Nieto then requested Andaya for the P900-million share of DAR from the fund.

Despite insufficient documents, Andaya released the money to Napoles, who had presented the manufactured documents.

The checks were deposited by the Napoles-run NGOs.

The NBI said DAR officials “exclusively selected” 12 NGOs for 97 projects. The biggest recipients were Gintong Pangkabuyan Foundation Inc. and Karangyaan para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc.

 

Napoles’ employees also fabricated a list showing names of farmer-beneficiaries. One of the names is that of a Supreme Court associate justice who was listed has having received a machete, a shovel and assorted seeds.

“In sum, the DAR Malampaya Fund projects intended to rehabilitate farmer-beneficiary victims were all ghost projects with no delivery whatsoever,” the NBI said.

The camp of Arroyo, who is now a Pampanga congressman, said the release of the P900-million to DAR was “authorized.”

“As far as the former president is concerned, the Malampaya fund were authorized pursuant to the purposes and policies mandated by the provisions of Presidential Decree 910,” said Raul Lambino, Arroyo’s chief of staff, referring to law creating the Energy Development Board.

JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON

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