Tuesday, 19 September 2017
Headlines National News

Ombudsman dismisses 9 PDAF and Malampaya scam cohorts

 
           malampayaQuezon City —  The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from the service of nine executives from the National Council for Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and a Chief for Political Affairs for their involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Malampaya scams.   Found guilty of Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service were NCMF officials Mehol Sadain, Fedelina Aldanese, Galay Makalinggan, Sania Busran, Aurora Aragon-Mabang, Olga Galido; and Michael Benjamin, the political affairs chief of former Senator Gregorio Honasan. 
 
            The Ombudsman also ordered their perpetual disqualification from holding public office.  In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondents’ salaries for one year.
 
            Sadain, et. al. “participated in the preparation, processing and approval of the Memorandum of Agreement and the PDAF documents governing the project implementation and fund releases to Focus Development Goals Foundation, as NGO partner.” In its in-depth investigation, the Ombudsman found that in April 2012, the Department of Budget and Management released P30 million as part of the Honasan’s PDAF with the NCMF as implementing agency.  The fund was intended to finance small and medium enterprise/livelihood projects for the benefit of Muslim Filipinos in communities in the National Capital Region and Zambales.
          Documents clearly showed that in June 2012, Honasan indorsed Focus Development as NGO-partner without compliance with procurement regulations. According to the Ombudsman, the check dated 30 May 2012 and disbursement voucher approving the payment “were prepared by public respondents in favor of Focus even before (1) the NGO was informed that it was found qualified to undertake the project on 04 June 2012; (2) the MOA was signed by the Office of Senator Honasan, NCMF and Focus; and (3) Honasan authorized the release of funds to Focus.”  Honasan, et.al. facilitated and approved the payment in favor of Focus via two tranches totaling P29.1 million.
According to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, “the respondents were not performing ministerial acts when they signed the disbursement vouchers and checks for the release of funds to Focus.”
 
In a separate Decision, the Ombudsman also ordered the dismissal from the service of Teresita Panlilio and Ronald Venancio, both from the DAR.  The duo was found guilty of Grave Misconduct and ordered perpetually barred from holding public office.  In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondents’ salaries for one year.
 
Panlilio and Venancio are among the 25 respondents facing two counts of Plunder and multiple graft and Malversation charges after the Ombudsman established their indispensable acts of participation in the illegal diversion of P900million from the Malampaya funds. The P900 million was then downloaded to the DAR and distributed to 12 NGOs backed by Janet Lim Napoles.     Ombudsman investigators found that the fund was used to implement “ghost projects” as the documents were all fictitious as there were no deliveries of agricultural kits or packages. Respondents also manufactured the lists of farmer-beneficiaries and forged the signatures of the recipients.

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