Former president Gloria Arroyo is facing her second plunder case together with suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) over irregular Malampaya fund releases worth P900 million.
In a 39-page complaint she submitted on Thursday to the Office of the Ombudsman, Secretary Leila de Lima recommended the review of the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that implicated the former president in the Malampaya fund releases.
Charged with Arroyo and Napoles are former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita; former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) secretary Nasser Pangandaman; former DAR undersecretary Narciso Nieto; incumbent Presidential Agrarian Reform Council head Teresita Panlilio; former Budget secretary and now Rep. Rolando Andaya of Camarines Sur province; Budget undersecretary Mario Relampagos; former mayor Rene Maglanque of Candaba, Pampanga province; and DAR officials Angelita Cacananta, Nilda Baui, Dominador Sison Jr., and Ronald Venancio.
Evelyn de Leon, Jesus Castillo, Lilian Español, Genevieve Uy, Ronald John Lim, Euloguo Rodriguez, Lorna Ramirez, Ronald Francisco Lim, Simplicio Gumafelix, and John Raymund de Asis and Ruby Tuason, personalities linked to Napoles were also named respondents.
De Lima said three Agrarian Reform executives received P337.77 million in kickbacks from Napoles between 2009 and 2010.
Pangandaman received P75 million, Panlilio P14 million, and Nieto P6 million. Tuason received P242.77 million from a “still unidentified principal.”
According to the NBI, Napoles managed to get her hands on the Malampaya special fund as early as July 2009.
She allegedly instructed her staff to manufacture bogus documents to be submitted to the DAR from mayors requesting assistance in projects for farmer-beneficiaries.
The documents included letter-requests and memorandum of agreements bearing the forged signatures of the mayors.
Nieto signed on behalf of the DAR and released the checks to Napoles-linked non-government organizations (NGOs).
The NBI said Napoles could not have pulled off the scheme if Arroyo had not issued executive order (EO) 848, which allowed releases from the Malampaya fund.
Arroyo’s directive only took effect on October 13, 2009 or five days from October 8, 2009, when Ermita told Andaya that Arroyo had approved the release of the P900-million to DAR.
“The letter did not specify what amount from the [Malampaya Special Fund] is to be allotted to DAR,” the complaint of the NBI read.
It added that the fund was supposedly for relief operations, rehabilitation and reconstruction in farming areas devastated by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.
Nieto then requested Andaya for the P900-million share of DAR from the fund.
Despite insufficient documents, Andaya released the money to Napoles, who had presented the manufactured documents.
The checks were deposited by the Napoles-run NGOs.
The NBI said DAR officials “exclusively selected” 12 NGOs for 97 projects. The biggest recipients were Gintong Pangkabuyan Foundation Inc. and Karangyaan para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc.
Napoles’ employees also fabricated a list showing names of farmer-beneficiaries. One of the names is that of a Supreme Court associate justice who was listed has having received a machete, a shovel and assorted seeds.
“In sum, the DAR Malampaya Fund projects intended to rehabilitate farmer-beneficiary victims were all ghost projects with no delivery whatsoever,” the NBI said.
The camp of Arroyo, who is now a Pampanga congressman, said the release of the P900-million to DAR was “authorized.”
“As far as the former president is concerned, the Malampaya fund were authorized pursuant to the purposes and policies mandated by the provisions of Presidential Decree 910,” said Raul Lambino, Arroyo’s chief of staff, referring to law creating the Energy Development Board.
Andaya, who was Budget secretary during the administration of Arroyo, denied he was part of the scheme.
“In the first case filed on behalf of the whistleblowers which has 500,000 pages, not one alphabet of my name was mentioned.
The whistleblowers said they have never seen me or talked to me. Napoles doesn’t know me and not even a paparazzi’s photograph could dispute this,” Andaya pointed out.
As the DBM chief, Andaya said, he had always presumed that all funding requirements were aboveboard.
“If the so-called masterminds are the ones saying that I have no direct involvement in the plunder of Malampaya funds, why am I now being dragged into this? Not every request for fund release should be treated with criminal suspicion. My job description then was to release money for national funding requirements—a job that did not come with an early warning device that would alert me about a possible hijacking or pilfering when the funds are on its way to the beneficiaries,” he said.
“I never thought that there would be people who are anticipating such release and take advantage of the fund for kickbacks and racketeering,” he said. “I wasn’t allowed to confront my accusers or respond to the charges against me, but not even a text was sent to me as an invitation. I even said, grill me. What happened was ‘file now, investigate later’.”
A lawmaker said government agencies outside the DAR which utilized the Malampaya funds should explain how they spent the people’s money.
“As it is, only the [DAR] would bear the brunt of the case because it is only the DAR who submitted its liquidation. The P900 million disbursement of DAR is just a small portion of the total P23.6 billion misused from the Malampaya fund. How about the other agencies who also got billions [of Malampaya fund]?” House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares said.
The misuse of the Malampaya fund, Colmenares said, continued until the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
With a report from Jorge Zamora