National Agri-Business Corp. (Nabcor) President Honesto Baniqued on Monday said that he expects the Office of the Ombudsman will eventually dismiss the plunder complaint filed against him and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.
“The accusations were baseless and unfounded . . . I am confident that the plunder complaint filed against me and the secretary will eventually be dismissed,” Baniqued said in a press conference.
To recall, lawyer Argee Guevarra, a known advocate of private sector importation, filed a plunder complaint against Alcala and Baniqued for allegedly amassing P1.07 billion of public funds.
In his 18-page criminal and administrative complaint, Guevarra said that the two officials should be prosecuted for plunder, violation of the Anti-Graft Law, malversation of public funds and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
But Baniqued said that no act of plunder was ever committed during his watch, stressing that the acts complained were merely “bits and pieces” lifted from the Commission on Audit’s (COA) 2012 annual audit report of NABCOR.
“This was done without taking into consideration the entirety of the [COA] report nor even the complete portions from which he [Guevarra] quoted his statements from,” Baniqued said.
“The complaint based from what we have reviewed which was uploaded over the Internet are conclusions without any direct evidence and are merely conjectures,” he added.
The Nabcor chief said that the act of filling a plunder complaint against him will duly be dealt with and the necessary counter charges will be filed to further prevent such malicious acts of filing baseless complaints.
“I will not allow this plunder complaint to erode the work I have done nor my reputation be further besmirched nor remain silent and be used by groups who are politically motivated, moving against the [Agriculture] secretary,” Baniqued said.
To date, Nabcor has already completed 80 percent of the process in turning over of major projects and retrenchment of personnel. It expects to complete the process of shutting down its operations early next month.
“As much as possible, we want to shut it down immediately. I will not even dare to extend [the deadline],” Baniqued told reporters.
Nabcor, the corporate arm of the Department of Agriculture, was earlier found to be a non-performing government-owned and -controlled corporation that has been operating at a loss.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd approved the abolition of Nabcor.
Baniqued said that the presidential clearance will mean the creation of a Technical Working Group to pave the way for the winding down of operations, disposition of assets, liabilities, closing of book accounts and the transfer of assets and functions of Nabcor.
He also said that affected employees are given separation pay pursuant to civil service rules and regulations, unless they are found to have participated in graft and/or corrupt acts in which case the separation package may be withheld pending the investigation and/or prosecution.