Ex-NCMF chief liable for ‘pork’ scam

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The Office of the Ombudsman has found former National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary Mehol Sadain and several others administratively liable for their alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam in 2012.

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The Ombudsman found Sadain guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and ordered his dismissal. The same penalty was meted on Michael Benjamin, former political affairs chief of Sen. Gregorio Honasan 2nd, and former NCMF executives former acting chief accountant Fedelina Aldanese (now acting director of the NCMF’s Finance and Management Services), former Director III Galay Makalinggan, former Chief Sania Busran, former Acting Chief Aurora Aragon-Mabang, and former cashier Olga Galido.

All of them were perpetually barred from holding public office.

The Ombudsman said Sadain and his co-accused “participated in the preparation, processing and approval of the Memorandum of Agreement and the PDAF documents governing the project implementation and fund releases to Focus Development Goals Foundation, as NGO (non-government organization) partner.”

The complaint involved the P30 million released by the Department of Budget and Management in 2012 as part of Honasan’s PDAF with the NCMF as implementing agency.

The money was meant to fund small and medium enterprise/livelihood projects for Muslim Filipinos in the National Capital Region and Zambales province.

Honasan allegedly endorsed Focus as the partner NGO supposedly but procurement regulations were not followed, the Ombudsman found.

It alleged that the check dated May 30, 2012 and disbursement voucher “were prepared by public respondents in favor of Focus even before the NGO was informed that it was found qualified to undertake the project on June 4, 2012 or even before the memorandum of agreement was signed by Honasan, NCMF and Focus. Honasan and the other accused facilitated and approved the supposed payment in favor of Focus via two tranches totaling P29.1 million, the Ombudsman said.

“[T]he respondents were not performing ministerial acts when they signed the disbursement vouchers and checks for the release of funds to Focus,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said.

Earlier, the Ombudsman found basis to file graft charges at the Sandiganbayan against Honasan, Benjamin, Sadain, Aldanese, Makalinggan, Busran, Aragon-Mabang, and Galido in connection with the matter.

Also charged were Giovanni Manuel Gaerlan and Salvador Gaerlan, former officers of Focus.

In a separate case, the Ombudsman also found Teresita Panlilio, former Finance and Management Service Director of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and former Chief Administrative Officer Ronald Venancio administratively liable in connection with the Malampaya fund scam.

The two were found guilty of grave misconduct and dismissed from the service and barred from holding public office.

Panlilio, Venancio and 23 others were charged in connection with the alleged illegal diversion of P900-million Malampaya funds in 2009.

Investigators found that the money, which was released to the DAR and coursed through NGOs allegedly controlled by Janet Napoles, was used to implement “ghost projects.” REINA TOLENTINO

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