Ombudsman probes Gringo, Jinggoy over DAR fund misuse
MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman is investigating Senator Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan II, former senator Jinggoy Estrada, an ex-congressman, a former agrarian reform secretary, and 6 other officials for their alleged involvement in the misuse of P220-million funds of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Under preliminary investigation along with Honasan and Estrada are:
- former San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan representative Arturo Robes
- former DAR secretary Virgilio delos Reyes
- former DAR undersecretaries Narciso Nieto, Jerry Pacturan, and Teresita Panlilio
- Department of Budget and Management (DBM) undersecretary Mario Relampagos
- DAR employees Ronald Venancio and Rowena Agbayani
In a statement on Friday, August 26, the Office of the Ombudsman said that they are being probed for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation through falsification of public documents under the Revised Penal Code.
The DAR and DBM officials and employees, except Nieto, are also facing administrative adjudication proceedings for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. (READ: Napoles' DAR connection)
The Office of the Ombudsman said that from 2010 to 2011, the DAR allocated P220 million for livelihood and training projects for farmers in 27 municipalities in 10 provinces in Luzon.
The funds were sourced from the following:
- P20 million from DAR's 2010 regular fund, released upon the request of Honasan
- P100 million from Honasan's Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel in 2011
- P100 million from DAR's 2011 regular fund, with P50 million released upon the request of Estrada and P50 million for projects endorsed by Pacturan
"Each municipality was supposed to receive funds ranging from P5 to P10 million, with 13 non-government organizations (NGOs) tasked to implement the programs. Actual field verification, however, showed that none of the projects were implemented as they were 'ghost projects'," said the Office of the Ombudsman.
It added that despite several notices of disallowance from the Commission on Audit, the DAR funds remain unliquidated. (READ: Pork Tales: A story of corruption)
"Documents also showed that there was a deliberate or extensive use of falsified documents and forged signatures in order to fully document, substantiate and justify the disbursement and utilization of the P220 million," the statement continued.
Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles was likewise among the respondents being investigated, together with the following:
- Florida Robes, wife of ex-congressman Robes
- Pauline Therese Labayen, staff member of ex-senator Estrada
- NGO representatives Evelyn de Leon, John Raymond de Asis, Mylene Encarnacion, Simplicio Gumafelix, Eulogio Rodriguez, Evelyn Miranda, Perfecto Jaime Tagalog, Remo Bana, Michelle Imperial, Richard Tubiera, Lyngie Tubiera, Melinda Calagui, and Ronald John Lim Jr
- Notaries public Atty Donato Manguiat, Atty Editha Talaboc, Atty Mark Oliveros, and Atty Raymond Gerardo Tansip
- Rodrigo Galay