NBI probes DBM official over fake Saros

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Monday, January 6, 2014

MANILA -- An official of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has been included in the probe regarding the fake special allotment release orders (Saros) allegedly perpetrated by a syndicate in the agency.

Undersecretary Mario Relampagos is “inevitably covered” by the probe of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) because some of his personnel are involved, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said in a text message on Sunday.

The NBI is looking into the participation of Relampagos’ driver, secretary and janitor in the scam, which superimposed fake signatures on unsigned Saros. The bogus documents were photocopied several times so that it would appear genuine.

“The core factual issues are: Did he know about the shenanigans of his subordinates? Did he tolerate the same? Worse, did he benefit from those corrupt practices?” she said, adding a female “supremo” heads the syndicate within the DBM.

De Lima said it is up to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Relampagos to discuss whether he should take a leave of absence while the investigation is ongoing. The NBI is expected to submit its report to de Lima by the end of the month.

A Saro gives the government agency the go-signal to proceed with a project since funds will be allocated for it. Abad said the 12 fake Saros costing P879 million were supposed to be used for farm-to-market road projects in Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, Western Visayas and Soccsksargen.

Relampagos was earlier charged with plunder, along with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for allegedly diverting the Malampaya gas fund intended for the farmer-beneficiaries affected by storms Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009. (Sunnex)

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