SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Former Maguindanao 2nd District Representative Simeon Datumanong on Wednesday reiterated that he has not endorsed any contractor to undertake projects funded with his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Lawyer Kenny Tantuico, Datumanong’s counsel, said the former congressman’s signature was forged. He added that the letter request used as evidence in the complaint did not even come from Datumanong’s office.
The indictment stemmed from the lawmaker’s alleged request to course the funds through Maharlika Lipi Foundation Inc. (MLFI), as the partner non-government organization (NGO) for livelihood projects in the municipalities of Mamasapano, Ampatuan and Datu Abdullah Sangki.
Datumanong himself also reacted to The Manila Times story that he (Datumanong), and several others from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) headed by then Secretary Mehol Sadain were ordered charged by the Ombudsman over the misuse of P3.8-million pork barrel funds in 2012.
The former lawmaker said he does not normally give notes to anyone or any office to favor such a contractor as alleged in the charge sheet.
“I have not done that in all my 50 years in government service, and the Ombudsman can check the facts in my records. Because if I’m used to giving notes, then I would have been indicted for bigger amounts as secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Justice,” Datumanong said, who headed both agencies during the term of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The former official said his signature may have been forged by people behind the MLFI, who apparently wanted to escape the pressure of the preliminary investigation.
Datumanong also asked why the Ombudsman would rely on an unverified note without fully exercising her investigative power, if indeed, the NCMF central office skipped or waived the bidding process.
He said he did not know the MLFI, the NGO he allegedly gave a note to, and which the Ombudsman said was “extended extraordinary accommodation” by NCMF officials when they approved the PDAF releases.
Datumanong felt the Ombudsman’s resolution came at the 11th hour of the preparation of its year-end accomplishment report. He said he was not dismissing politics as possibly behind the filing of the case since he and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Rep. Rodolfo Albano once filed a petition before the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional Executive Order 1, creating the Truth Commission, the first decree of Benigno Aquino 3rd’s administration.
The SC upheld Datumanong and Lagman in their 2010 petition against the constitutionality of Aquino’s creation of a super anti-graft probe body, whose mandate, they argued,was a duplication of the constitutional powers of the Ombudsman.
Meanwhile, Fedelina Aldanese, NCMF acting chief accountant who was also indicted, said she has been working for the Muslim agency for more than 40 years, but this was the first time she was charged for such an anomaly.
“I’m proud to have sent my children to college, one of them to the PMA [Philippine Military Academy] out of sheer hard work here since 1982, with Muslims and Christian employees and officials, who are like brothers and sisters to me, working for the Muslims,” Aldanese added.