Ex-NEcija lawmaker, 8 others face graft, malversation cases

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The Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan against former Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino and eight other individuals in connection with the alleged misappropriation of P14.55 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation in 2007.

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Charged with graft along with Antonino were former Agriculture Secretary and now Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap, Alan Javellana, Rhodora Mendoza, Encarnita Munsod and Maria Ninez Guañizo who were formerly with National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), and Marilou Antonio and Carmelita Barredo.

Also charged with malversation along with Antonino were Yap, Javellana, Mendoza, Munsod, Guañizo, Antonio and Barredo.

In the first graft and malversation cases, the Ombudsman alleged that Antonino, Yap, Javellana, Mendoza and Munsod, “conspiring with one another and with” Antonio and Barredo, “cause[d]undue injury to the government” and/or gave “unwarranted benefits and advantage to” Antonio and Barredo and allowed Antonio and Barredo “to take public funds amounting to at least” P13.095 million.

In the second cases, it alleged that the respondents also caused to defraud the government of at least P1.455 million.

The charge sheets also alleged that Antonino “unilaterally chose and indorsed” the supposedly “unaccredited and unqualified” non-government organization Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. (BMMKFI) as project partner in implementing the PDAF-funded livelihood project for barangay (villages) in Nueva Ecija’s fourth district.

The project pertained to the purchase and distribution of sets of livelihood technology kits.

Nabcor, supposedly represented by Javellana, allegedly entered into a memorandum of agreement with BMMKFI, supposedly represented by Antonio, on the project. Yap then allegedly entered into an agreement with Javellana on the project implementation.

REINA TOLENTINO

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