Ombudsman sacks 9 officials over PDAF, Malampaya scams
MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday, January 12, ordered the dismissal of 9 officials of several government agencies for their involvement in the embezzlement of hundreds of millions of pesos in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Malampaya funds.
The officials, found guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, are:
From the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF):
- Mehol Sadain
- Fedelina Aldanese
- Galay Makalinggan
- Sania Busran
- Aurora Aragon-Mabang
- Olga Galido
From the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR):
- Teresita Panlilio (Grave Misconduct only)
- Ronald Venancio (Grave Misconduct only)
- Michael Benjamin, the political affairs chief of former senator Gregorio Honasan II.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales also ordered the officials' perpetual disqualification from holding public office. If they have resigned, the respondents have to pay a fine equivalent to one year of their salary.
The Ombudsman found during investigation that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P30 million in 2012 as part of Honasan's PDAF. The NCMF was the implementing agency, and the fund was meant to finance small and medium enterprises for Muslim communities in the National Capial Region.
It was later found that the non-governmental organization Focus Development was endorsed by Honasan for the project without compliance with procurement regulations.
According to the Ombudsman, a check and disbursement voucher was released in favor of the NGO 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.”
The NCMF officials, the Ombudsman said, "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."
According to the Ombudsman, "the respondents were not performing ministerial acts when they signed the disbursement vouchers and checks for the release of funds to Focus."
The two DAR officials, on the other hand, were found guilty of grave misconduct for their involvement in the illegal diversion of Malampaya funds worth P900 million.
They also face, along with 23 other respondents, two counts of plunder and multiple graft and malversation charges for the fund scam. (READ: How the Malampaya fund was plundered)
The Ombudsman said they were able to establish the DAR officials' "indispensable acts" when P900 million worth of Malampaya funds was downloaded to DAR and distributed to fake NGOs being linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. She has been tagged as the mastermind of the PDAF scam.
The Ombudsman's investigation revealed that the fund was used to implement "ghost projects," adding that the documents were "fictitious" because agricultural kits and packages were never delivered. – Rappler.com