THE Ombudsman has filed graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan against Games and Amusement Board chief Abraham Kahlil Mitra and several others in connection with the allegedly anomalous transfer of a P3-million fertilizer fund during his term as representative of Palawan’s second district in 2004.
Also named respondents in the charge sheets approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio- Morales were former Executive Director Dennis Araullo, former Regional Technical Directors Gregorio Sangalang and Balagtas Torres, former Legislative Coordinator Lucille Odejar and former Regional Accountant Raymundo Braganza of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office IV-B.
Also included were then-members of the Board of Trustees of the non-government organization (NGO) GabayMasa Development Foundation Inc.–Margie Luz, Concha Idica, Ma. Cristina Vizcarra, Caridad Tajon, Melencio Punzalan and Rodolfo Luz.
Assistant Special Prosecutor I Maria Rizza Ferrer-Mendoza accused them of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for giving “unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to GabayMasa and cause undue injury to the government” by selecting and accrediting GabayMasa as the collaborating NGO to implement the P3-million fertilizer fund “despite the latter’s lack of qualifications under COA [Commission on Audit] Circular No. 96-003.”
The fund was allocated for the farm implements program of Palawan’s second district.
The prosecutor also alleged that the respondents immediately approved and transferred 65 percent of the P3 million, or P1.95 million, to GabayMasa upon approval/signing of a Memorandum of Agreement dated March 10, 2004 when only 20 percent should have been transferred as stated in the MOA.
Further, the respondents allegedly approved and transferred the final release of payment totaling P1.05 million in favor of the NGO “in violation of the agreed tranches in the MOA despite the latter’s failure to submit and comply with the required reportorial requirements and/or conditions as specified in the MOA, to the damage and prejudice of the government.”
In the charge sheet for malversation of public funds, Mendoza alleged that the respondents “did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, appropriate, take, convert, misappropriate, consent, or through abandonment or negligence, permit and allow GabayMasa to embezzle and take the public funds under their charge and custody” by “immediately approving the release and transfer” of P1.95 million to the NGO.
According to the charge sheet, the sums “were subsequently received and acknowledged by GabayMasa as reflected in O.R. No. 0087 and failed to liquidate in the manner set forth in the said MOA, to the damage and prejudice of the government.”
It recommended P30,000 bail each for the respondents in the graft case and P40,000 bail each in malversation.