Court rejects ex-lawmaker’s bid to dismiss ‘pork’ raps

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The Sandiganbayan’s Third Division denied for lack of merit the appeal of former Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas, 4th district of Davao del Sur, to nullify the graft and malversation charges against him and several others in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam saying that the facts alleged do not constitute the offenses charged.

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“An examination of the informations for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 reveals that they contain the requisite factual averments of the elements of the offenses charged,” the court said in a resolution.

Republic Act or R.A. No. 3019 is the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed the cases last year saying that the respondents’ alleged acts allowed the Peoples Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Inc. (Popdfi) and the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (Sdpffi) to divert in 2008 PDAF-drawn public funds to Janet Lim-Napoles’ control instead of implementing PDAF-funded projects (the provision of agricultural production packages in Davao del Sur’s first district), which supposedly turned out to be non-existent.

Popdfi and Sdpffi were non-government organizations (NGOs) that Napoles allegedly operated and/or controlled.

Named respondents along with Cagas in the graft and malversation cases involving P2.7 million for Popdfi as project partner were: former Technology Resource Center director general Antonio Ortiz, former deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, former group managers Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana and Francisco Figura, former budget officer Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, and former chief accountant Marivic Jover; former Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Zenaida Cruz-Ducut; former Department of Budget and Management undersecretary Mario Relampagos and then-DBM employees Rosario Nuñez, Marilou Bare and Lalaine Paule, with Napoles, Jesus Castillo, Margarita Guadinez, Ireneo Pirater and Jocelyn Deiparine.

Indicted in separate cases involving P4.85 million for the project with Sdpffi were former National Agribusiness Corp. president Alan Javellana and its former employees Victor Cacal, Romulo Relevo, Maria Ninez Guañizo, Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson and Rhodora Mendoza; Ducut; Relampagos; Nuñez; Bare and Paule, with Napoles, John Raymond De Asis and Noel Macha.

Cagas said in part that he merely endorsed the NGOs, his signature was forged, and that he never facilitated the processing of the Special Allotment Release Orders and Notices of Cash Allocation.

REINA TOLENTINO

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