Ex-SCotabato solon, 18 others face PDAF raps

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FORMER Rep. Arthur Pingoy, Jr., of South Cotabato, and 18 others are facing graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.

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The Office of the Ombudsman, the anti-graft body, filed Monday the cases at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

Also facing graft and malversation charges were businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, former Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Zenaida Ducut, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, and then-DBM employees Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare.

Likewise charged were former Technology Resource Center (TRC) Director General Antonio Ortiz, former TRC Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan, and then-TRC employees Francisco Figura and Marivic Jover.

Former National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) President Alan Javellana, former Nabcor Administrative and Finance Department Vice President Rhodora Mendoza, and former Nabcor employees Maria Ninez Guanizo and Victor Cacal also face charges.

Also named respondent was Evelyn De Leon, then-President of the Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc. (PSDFI), as well as other private individuals, namely: Noel Macha, John Raymund de Asis, and John Bernardo.

The Ombudsman alleged that the respondents caused undue injury to the government in the total amount of P20.9 million between 2007 and 2009.

Based on the charge sheets, Pingoy allegedly endorsed PSDFI and the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI) to the implementing agencies TRC and Nabcor, respectively, as “project-partner” in providing livelihood projects in South Cotabato’s second district funded by his PDAF.

The endorsement, however, was “in disregard of the appropriation law and its implementing rules, and/or without the benefit of public bidding as required under Republic Act No. 9184 and its implementing rules and regulations…”

The Ombudsman alleged that PSDFI and SDPFFI, which were nongovernment organizations (NGOs) allegedly run by Napoles, were “unaccredited and unqualified” to undertake the projects.

It also alleged that Relampagos, Nuñez, Paule and Bare, “unduly accommodating Napoles and her cohorts, hastily facilitated” the Special Allotment Release Orders (Saro) and the corresponding Notice of Cash Allocations (NCA) that resulted in the release of the PDAF to TRC and Nabcor.

Pingoy and Ortiz then allegedly entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with De Leon on the supposed implementation of the PDAF-funded projects. Pingoy and Javellana also allegedly entered into an MoA with SDPFFI.

Checks were allegedly issued without TRC and Nabcor officers and employees having carefully examined and verified the accreditation and qualification of the NGOs and the transactions’ supporting documents, the Ombudsman alleged.

Thus, according to the charge sheets, the accused public respondents allegedly allowed PSDFFI and SDPFFI “to divert said PDAF-drawn public funds into Napoles’ control instead of implementing the PDAF-funded projects, which turned out to be nonexistent…”

The Ombudsman recommended a P30,000-bail for each of the respondents’ temporary liberty in the graft cases, and a P40,000-bail each in the malversation cases.

Pingoy and Ducut also face direct bribery charges.

Based on charge sheets, Pingoy, “by himself and/or through his co-conspirator Ducut,” allegedly received P6.755 million and P300,000 from Napoles in 2007 and 2008, respectively. MA. REINA LEANNE TOLENTINO

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