2 ex-lawmakers, 5 others rapped over PDAF scam

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Monday, June 23, 2014

FOR ALLEGED irregular allocation and utilization of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), graft investigators recommended to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales the filing of malversation charges against two former legislators and five others on Monday.

In a statement, Morales said the investigators have found sufficient ground to charge former Nueva Ecija representative Rodolfo Antonino, former Agriculture secretary and now Bohol Representative Arthur Yap and five others in connection with the alleged misuse of PDAF.

The Ombudsman said Antonino and Yap will undergo preliminary investigation along with former National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) officials Alan Javellana, Encarnita Cristina Munsod, Rhodora Mendoza and Maria Niñez Guanizo, and Marilou Antonio, president of Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation Inc. (BMMKFI), and Carmelita Barredo, General Manager of CC Barredo Publishing House (CC Barredo).

The BMMKFI is not listed as among the fake non-government organizations of PDAF scam alleged mastermind Janet Napoles.

Meanwhile, Ombudsman investigators also filed a separate complaint for malversation of public funds and violations of Section 3(e) and (h) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) against former Isabela representative Anthony Miranda and nine others also in relation to the PDAF scam, or the so-called pork barrel fund scam.

Miranda will undergo preliminary investigation along with Technology Resource Center (TRC) officials Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Belina Concepcion, Francisco Figura, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, and Consuelo Lilian Reyes Espiritu as well as Domingo Mamauag and Edison Sabio of Aksyon Makamasa Foundation Inc. (AMFI).

Incumbent public officials Cunanan, Jover, Concepcion, Lacsamana and Espiritu also face administrative charges for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Field investigations have been conducted on the PDAF scam since July 2013 when Morales, on her own initiative, ordered the conduct of a fact-finding investigation in response to news reports on the PDAF scam exposes.

Morales said several investigation teams were subsequently created to expedite the investigation by gathering numerous documents and interviewing hundreds of witnesses nationwide based on the Commission on Audit (COA) Special Audits Office Report 2012-03, which involved a total of P6.156-billion worth of PDAF releases from 2007 to 2009 by various implementing agencies to 82 NGOs.

Antonino's P15-M ‘ghost livelihood’

Morales said that during the first phase of the investigation, Antonino placed his P15-million PDAF allocation to the DA for an Integrated Livelihood Project for the 4th district of Nueva Ecija, under Special Allotment Order (SARO) ROCS-07-02898.

During the investigation, Morales said the investigators discovered that on February 14, 2007 or even prior to the actual transfer of funds to the Antonino, requests to then Agriculture Secretary Yap to transfer the funds to Nabcor even if it was not identified in the General Appropriations Act of 2007 as one of the implementing agencies of PDAF.

An Advice of Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) was issued on February 23, 2007 by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the DA, which subsequently entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Nabcor on March 7, 2007. A disbursement voucher in favor of Nabcor was issued on March 9, 2007, which facilitated payment on March 16, 2007 through a Landbank check dated March 14, 2007.

Morales noted that two days prior to the March 7, 2007 MOA signed by Yap and Nabcor president Javellana, however, records show that Nabcor (through Javellana) already entered into a MOA with BMMKFI (through its president, Marilou Antonio), upon the request of the former lawmaker on the implementation of the project worth P14,550,000.

"Records also show that Javellana approved the release of the first tranche of payment to BMMKFI without the signature of Nabcor accountant Roderica Bitancor who was supposed to certify that the supporting documents are complete and proper," Morales said.

The Ombudsman said that Nabcor received the first amount (90 percent) on March 21, 2007 through a UCPB check signed by Javellana and Mendoza, Nabcor director for Financial Services.

"It was discovered that BMMKFI exclusively procured from CC Barredo 7,275 sets of Livelihood Technology Kits (Volumes 1-1V) with a unit cost of P2,000 or a total of P14,550,000.00, as evidenced by Purchase Order No. 03-011-2007," Morales said.

Investigators noticed, however, that CC Barredo made an offer to BMMKFI as early as February 14, 2007.

On March 23, 2007, CC Barredo purportedly delivered the kits to BMMKFI, which reportedly delivered the same to then representative Antonino on even date. The remaining 10 percent of the project cost was thereafter released by Nabcor to the BMMKFI through a disbursement voucher dated April 24, 2007 signed by Munsod and Guanizo. After receiving the remaining amount on the same day through a UCPB check signed by Javellana and Mendoza, BMMKFI paid CC Barredo on April 30, 2007.

"Based on the list of Project Beneficiaries certified correct by representative Antonino, the 7,275 livelihood kits were purportedly distributed in Gapan City and the municipalities of San Isidro, General Tinio, Cabiao, Jaen, Peñaranda and San Leonardo," Morales said citing the reports.

She said the complaint alleged that the project is inexistent based on on-site validation showing that a number of concerned city and municipal officials attested that their respective local government units did not receive the livelihood sets nor were there records relative thereto.

Morales also cited the report, which found that neither the BMMKFI nor Antonino's office submitted a list of actual beneficiaries or a detailed liquidation report. The BMMKFI Report indicated only the total number of kits without identifying the breakdown or names of beneficiaries.

Morales said the COA Report categorized the funds as "unliquidated in full."

Miranda's NGO

Meanwhile, Morales explained that from 2007 to 2009, Miranda's P21-million PDAF was released to AMFI as the conduit NGO through TRC (then known as Technology and Livelihood Resource Center or TLRC) as the implementing agency for livelihood programs and projects in the 4th district of Isabela.

The funds were released under SARO Nos. ROCS-07-00608 (P10 million) and ROCS-07-004174 (P11 million) on January 15, 2007 and February 23, 2007, respectively.

"Investigation shows that on February 8, 2007, representative Miranda requested that the first PDAF of P10 million be released to AMFI, of which representative Miranda acted as incorporator, director and chairman of AMFI based on AMFI's General Information Sheet for 2007 on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)," Morales said.

It was also stated that the DBM issued the advice of NCA on February 13, 2007 for credit to TLRC’s account.

It also showed that TLRC Legislative Liaison Officer Concepcion recommended to TLRC director-general Ortiz on March 9, 2007 the release of P9.5 million, citing a MOA between TLRC and AMFI, which entitled TLRC to retain the total amount of P500,000 for the cost of livelihood materials (P100,000 or 1 percent), livelihood training (P100,000 or 1 percent), and 3 percent service fee (P300,000), the pertinent documents of which were reviewed and initialed by TLRC Group Manager Figura and approved by Ortiz on same date.

Also, the AMFI's Mamauag prepared a Work and Financial Plan detailing the conduct of agro-farming and livestock seminars, distribution of farming seeds livestock product, and livelihood training materials, which AMFI Chairman Sabio noted. Attached to the Plan is the Project Proposal which was endorsed by Miranda.

She noted that it was only on March 12, 2007 that Ortiz, Miranda and AMFI chairman Sabio executed the required MOA with a certification of availability of funds signed by TLRC Accounting Division Chief Jover, which MOA was notarized by a certain lawyer Donato Manguiat.

"On same date, Mamauag received the P9.5 million Land Bank check dated March 13, 2007 through an undated disbursement voucher signed by Cunanan, Jover and Ortiz," Morales said.

Respecting the second amount of P11 million, records show that DBM issued the advice of NCA on March 5, 2007 for credit to the account of TLRC.

On March 12, 2007, Miranda requested that the P11 million PDAF be similarly released to AMFI, through an endorsement letter with an attached Work and Financial Plan (also detailing the conduct of agro-farming and livestock seminars, distribution of farming seeds livestock product, and livelihood training materials) and a Project Proposal likewise endorsed by Rep. Miranda.

TLRC group manager Lacsamana recommended on March 23, 2007 the release of P10,560,000 under the terms of a MOA with AMFI.

On March 30, 2007, TLRC director general Ortiz, Miranda and AMFI chairman Sabio executed a MOA on this second project, bearing also Jover's certification of availability of funds, which was notarized by Joel Gordola, notary public. On April 2, 2007, Mamauag acknowledged receipt of the amount of P10,560,000 via Land Bank check through a disbursement voucher signed by Cunanan, Jover and Ortiz.

Ombudsman investigators claim that the two MOAs were filled with irregularities, such as lack of identified beneficiaries, lack of standards for project implementation and project acceptance, lack of project cost estimates, one lump sum payment instead of a schedule of release of payment, among others items required under the COA circular.

The complaint alleges that TLRC failed to heed the COA circular on NGO accreditation, while AMFI failed to submit the required three-year financial statements to TLRC that would have ensured that AMFI had a stable financial condition such that the fund assistance shall not be its sole source of funds, and had proven experience in fund management. SEC records show that AMFI sourced its funds only from government assistance, and did not comply with SEC reportorial requirements from 2007 to present.

Investigation did not yield any record showing that AMFI implemented or completed the projects, despite demand by COA to liquidate as early as May 30, 2012. (Sunnex)

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