The graft and malversation cases filed against two former lawmakers in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam have been designated to their respective court divisions at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
Earlier, the Office of the Ombudsman filed the charges against former Rep. Rodolfo Valencia of Oriental Mindoro and former Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas 4th of Davao del Sur’s first district.
The charges filed against Valencia were designated by raffle to the court’s Seventh Division while those filed against Cagas, to the court’s Third Division.
Once a case is designated to a court division, the latter is duty-bound to determine if probable cause exists to proceed to trial and to issue arrest warrants.
The Ombudsman recommended P30,000 bail each for the respondents’ provisional liberty in the graft cases, and P40,000 bail each in the malversation cases.
In July last year, the Ombudsman found probable cause to file charges before the Sandiganbayan against five former lawmakers including Valencia and Cagas in connection with the PDAF scam.
The others were former Representatives Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon of Muntinlupa, Arrel Olaño of Davao del Norte, and Arthur Pingoy Jr. of South Cotobato and several others.
During his term as congressional representative, Valencia allegedly endorsed the implementation of his PDAF-funded livelihood and agricultural projects to “questionable” non-government organizations supposedly run by Janet Lim-Napoles.
“The PDAF was anomalously used for livelihood and agricultural projects, skills training and distribution of livelihood kits,” the Ombudsman had alleged.
Witnesses Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, and Merlina Suñas alleged that the supposed payoffs for the alleged kickbacks were usually made at the JLN office in Ortigas with Celia Cuasay, as Valencia’s representative, allegedly receiving the money.
Charged along with Valencia were Cuasay, Napoles, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Mario Relampagos as well as then-DBM employees Rosario Nuñez, Marilou Bare, and Lalaine Paule.
Facing graft charges were former Technology Resource Center (TRC) Director General Antonio Ortiz, former TRC Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan as well as then-TRC employees Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, Francisco Figura, and Marivic Jover.
Named respondents in one count of graft were then-National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) President Allan Javellana and then-Nabcor employees Victor Cacal, Maria Ninez Guañizo, and Rhodora Mendoza.
Meanwhile, the Ombudsman alleged that Cagas’ PDAF from 2007 to 2009 totaling P11 million were released to the People Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (POPDFI) and Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI) for the distribution of agricultural production and livelihood packages in the form of fertilizers, seeds and sprayers.
The Commission on Audit found that the implementing agencies Nabcor and TRC allegedly did not actually implement Cagas’ PDAF-funded projects, and that the non-government organizations were allegedly dubious or non-existent.
The Ombudsman also alleged that supposed payments were made to Cagas at the JLN office in Ortigas through his supposed representative Zenaida Ducut.
Named respondents along with Cagas were Napoles and her employee John Raymond de Asis, former Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chief Ducut as well as Relampagos, Nuñez, Bare, and Paule.
Ortiz, Cunanan, Lacsamana, Espiritu, Figura, and Jover were likewise named respondents in the graft and malversation charges filed against Cagas.
Also charged were Javellana, Cacal, Guañizo, Ma. Julie Villaralvo Johnson, and Mendoza.
Private individuals Jesus Castillo, Margarita Guadinez, Ireneo Pirater, and Jocelyn Deiparine face graft charges while Noel Macha faces one count of malversation.