The Office of the Ombudsman filed charges against five former lawmakers who allegedly misused their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Charged at the Sandiganbayan were former Representatives Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of Masbate, Samuel Dangwa of Benguet, Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur, Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro and Edgar Valdez of the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC). Lanete is now the governor of Masbate.
Lanete and Valdez face separate charges of plunder because the amount they allegedly pilfered was more than P50 million.
Valdez’s co-accused in the plunder case is Janet Lim-Napoles and her employee John Raymund de Asis.
Charged along with Lanete were his aide Jose Sumalpong, Napoles and de Asis.
Lanete was accused of receiving P108.405 million in kickbacks from 2004 to 2010 from projects funded by her PDAF.
Valdez, whose alleged kickbacks totaled P57.787 million from 2004 to 2010, was also charged with seven counts of violation of the Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law.
The five cases involved a total amount of around P339 million, Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said.
In October, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales found probable cause to charge Lanete, Dangwa, Plaza and Jaraula for alleged misuse of their pork barrel allocation totaling P244.29 million.
Morales also ordered the indictment of Valdez for the alleged misuse of P95 million from 2007 to 2009.
The five lawmakers were accused of pouring their PDAF to non-government organizations owned or controlled by Napoles.
Plaza, Dangwa and Jaraula face charges of violation of section 3 (e) of the anti-graft law as well as malversation.
Plaza’s co-accused are his aide Carlos Lozada and Erwin Dangwa. Dangwa’s co-accused is his aide Jasper Kapuna.
Based on the Ombudsman’s resolution, Plaza received pork kickbacks amounting to at least P42.1 million; Dangwa, P26.7 million; and Jaraula, P20.8 million.
Also named respondents in the cases are Department of Budget and Management Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and employees Rosario Nunez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare; and several officials of implementing agencies and non-government organizations.
Morales said the farmers who were listed as beneficiaries of the projects funded by the lawmakers’ PDAF were fictitious or had jumbled surnames, while others were already deceased.
“In other words, these livelihood projects were ghost projects,” the Ombudsman noted.
“Certainly, these repeated, illegal transfers of public funds to Napoles’ control, purportedly for projects which did not exist, and just as repeated irregular disbursements thereof, present quantifiable pecuniary losses to the government,” she said.
Napoles, de Asis, Relampagos, Nuñez, Paule and Bare are also facing charges at the Sandiganbayan after being included as co-accused of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.