Graft cases filed vs ex-Davao del Sur, Bukidnon lawmakers

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The Office of the Ombudsman filed another set of graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan against former Bukidnon Rep. Candido Pancrudo Jr., as well Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas 4th and several others in connection with the Priority Deve­lopment Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation for allegedly non-existing projects.

Pancrudo is facing eight counts of graft, four counts of malversation and four counts of malversation thru falsification of public documents.

Also indicted were Jesus Esmeralda, Johanne Edward Labay, Aileen Carrasco, former Technology Resource Center Director General Antonio Ortiz, former TRC Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan and then-TRC employees Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Marivic Jover, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu and Francisco Figura.

The case stemmed from the Department of Budget and Management’s release of P49.2 million as part of Pancrudo’s PDAF from November 2007 to June 2008, which he said was coursed through the TRC and the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), with the non-government organization (NGO) partners Farmerbusiness Development Corporation (FDC) and Uswag Pilipinas Foundation Incorporated (UPFI) to fund training and livelihood seminars for his constituents in Bukidnon’s first district.

But the Ombudsman said that based on the Commission on Audit’s report, “there is no evidence that the funds were used to finance training and livelihood seminars conducted, or to the purchase the training kits.”

The office added that the supposed recipients denied receiving livelihood training kits.

It said there was no bidding on the selection of the NGO and noted “unusual accommodation in the examination, processing and approval of PDAF releases to the NGOs all completed in one day.”

“[T]hese repeated, illegal transfers of public funds to FDC’s control, purportedly for projects which did not exist, and just as repeated irregular disbursements, represent quantifiable pecuniary losses to the government,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said.

Last March, the Ombudsman also filed graft and malversation charges against Pancrudo and five others in connection with his P7.954-million PDAF in 2008 for which the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has ordered his arrest and that of his co-accused.

Similarly, sufficient grounds were found to file graft and malversation charges against Cagas and several others over the supposed use of P6-million pork barrel fund for projects that allegedly turned out to be ghost in 2008.

In a statement issued on Monday, Morales ordered the filing of two counts of graft, one count of malversation
and another count for malversation through falsification of public documents against Cagas, project consultant Vanie Semillano, Johanne Edward Labay, Arnolfo Reyes, Aileen Carrasco, as well as former TRC officials Ortiz and Cunanan and former employees Lacsamana, Jover and Espiritu.

Cagas claimed that the amount was spent for business clinics, market development and technology transfer through livelihood trainings and seminars and was coursed through FDC as the non-government organization partner and the TRC as implementing agency.

The office, however, alleged that the documents that the FDC submitted—project final report, certificates of service rendered, delivery receipts and acknowledgement receipts—“were all fabricated.”

The signatures on the livelihood training program registration form were also allegedly forged.

According to the office, the supposed beneficiaries denied having received any training.

In April, the Ombudsman also filed two counts of graft and two counts of malversation of public funds before the Sandiganbayan against Cagas and several others over allegedly anomalous use of PDAF in 2008.

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