Ex-Davao lawmaker, 25 others charged over PDAF

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The Office of the Ombudsman has found basis to file before the Sandiganbayan graft and malversation charges against former Davao City First District Rep. Prospero Nograles and several others in connection with the allegedly anomalous use of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel fund when he was the caretaker congressman of Misamis Oriental’s First District.

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In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Ombudsman’s office found probable cause to charge the respondents with graft, malversation and malversation through falsification of public documents in connection with P47.5 million of the PDAF of former Misamis Oriental First District Rep. Danilo Lagbas who died in 2008.

Also facing charges are Nograles’ former Chief of Staff Jennifer Karen Lagbas and former Chief Public Affairs Officer Danilo Jamito; then National Agri-Business Corporation (Nabcor) representatives Allan Javellana, Encarnita Cristina Munsod, Romulo Relevo, Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson and Rhodora Mendoza; former National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) representatives Gondelina Amata, Evelyn Sucgang, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Ofelia Ordoñez, and Sofia Cruz, and; then-Technology Resource Center (TRC) representatives Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover and Ma. Rosalinda Lacsamana.

Marilou Antonio, Godofredo Roque, Maria Paz Vega, Marilou Ferrer, Rodrigo Doria, Flerida Alberto, Miraflor Villanueva, Melinda Guerrero, and Carmelita Barredo were also included.

“I have not received a copy of the decision of the Ombudsman but nonetheless we are preparing our motion for reconsideration hoping that the body would go the extra mile to study the authenticity of their documents. We still have a lot of legal remedies but we are also ready to fight this all-out before the Sandiganbayan. The Ombudsman is losing a lot of cases because they seem to lack the patience and the diligence to study their cases,” Nograles, former House Speaker, said in a statement.

Documents showed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P47.5 million from 2007 to 2009 as part of Lagbas’ PDAF

When Nograles took over as caretaker of the First District of Misamis Oriental, he signed a letter-request to NLDC for the immediate release of the PDAF allocation of P10 million to KKAMFI.

He also signed the Memorandum of Agreement with NLDC and KKAMFI as well as the work financial plans and project proposal, the Ombudsman’s office said.

KKAMFI is the Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc., which was among the non-government organizations (NGOs) that the former lawmakers allegedly chose to implement livelihood projects.

The other NGOs were the Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation Inc. (KMBFI), Gabay at Pag-asa ng Masa Foundation Inc. (GPMFI) and the Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation Inc. (BMMKFI).

The implementing agencies were Nabcor, NLDC and TRC.

According to the Ombudsman’s resolution, “the chosen NGOs could not qualify for the grant of government funds since they failed to strictly comply with all the requirements needed in order to be considered eligible to implement government-funded projects.”

It said the Ombudsman’s office found that Lagbas, and upon his death, Nograles, allegedly “did not only propose, select, identify the programs to be funded out of the PDAF allocation, but also directly participated and intervened in the various phases of the project implementation.”

The Commission on Audit found that the original receipts used by the supposed supplier, C.C. Barredo Publishing House, allegedly contained overlapping series numbers and that the supplier’s Authority to Print receipts was allegedly used by two other establishments.

In his statement, Nograles said he did not receive or facilitate the release of any PDAF for Misamis Oriental’s First district while he was acting as its caretaker representative.

He added that he exercised no administrative control over the office’s day-to-day operation.

His statement further said that “the Ombudsman failed to appreciate a lot of material facts such as the SARO which was attributed to him was dated while [former]Congressman Lagbas was still alive.”

SARO is Special Allotment Release Order, a document that is issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

A SARO needs to be obligated by the DBM before issuing a Notice of Cash Allocation or NCA, which authorizes the release of the fund for the projects.

Meanwhile, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has directed that copies of the resolution be given to the Anti-Money Laundering Council for its immediate action on the respondents’ possible violations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

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