Charges of plunder and graft will be filed anytime soon against five former lawmakers over the alleged misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
The criminal complaints will be filed at the Sandiganbayan against former Representatives Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of Masbate, Samuel Dangwa of Benguet, Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur, Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro and Edgar Valdez of the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) after the Office of the Ombudsman affirmed its decision finding probable cause against the respondents and denied their appeal for reconsideration.
Lanete is now the governor of Masbate.
Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said the five cases involved a total amount of around P339 million. He said the complaints will be filed either this week or next week.
The separate orders to indict the former lawmakers were approved by the Ombudsman on December 29, 2014.
In October last year, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales found probable cause to charge Lanete, Dangwa, Plaza, and Jaraula. The pork barrel allocation involved totaled P244.29 million.
Morales then also ordered the filing of a plunder complaint against Valdez over alleged misuse of PDAF totaling P95 million from 2007 to 2009.
Likewise facing indictment are busineswoman and alleged pork scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles; John Raymund de Asis and Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and employees Rosario Nunez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare.
In June last year, graft charges were filed against Napoles, De Asis, Relampagos, Nuñez, Paule and Bare also in connection with the pork barrel scam. De Asis is at large.
Lanete was accused of receiving P108.405 million in kickbacks from 2004 to 2010.
The Ombudsman affirmed its finding of probable cause for multiple counts of graft aside from the plunder charge against her and his co-respondents.
It also affirmed the indictment for plunder against Valdez, whose alleged kickback totaled P57.787 million from 2004 to 2010. He and his co-respondents also face indictment for seven counts of graft.
The anti-graft office also found probable cause last year to charge Plaza and his co-respondents for alleged malversation and violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft Law.
Based on the Ombudsman’s resolution then, Plaza allegedly received P42.1 million in kickbacks from his PDAF-funded projects; Dangwa, P26.7 million and Jaraula, P20.8 million. The lawmakers allegedly funded fictitious projects of organizations controlled by Napoles.
Aside from respective charges of malversation and graft, they also face direct bribery charges. Napoles is also facing charges of Corruption of Public Officials and violation of Section 4(b) of the Anti-Graft Law.
“Many of the names appearing on the lists as farmer-recipients were neither residents nor registered voters of the place where they were listed as beneficiaries, were fictitious or had jumbled surnames, while others were already deceased. In other words, these livelihood projects were ghost projects,” Morales said.
She noted that “certainly, these repeated, illegal transfers of public funds to Napoles’ control, purportedly for projects which did not exist, and just as repeated irregular disbursements thereof, present quantifiable pecuniary losses to the Government.”