MANILA, Philippines – Seven months after he was allowed to post bail for a murder charge, Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas is formally charged before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan for another offense – his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam when he was a congressman.
Two counts of graft, two counts of malversation, and one count of direct bribery were filed against Cagas before the Sandiganbayan on March 24, but copies of the charges were released to the media on Thursday, March 30. He allegedly got a total of P9.3 million in kickbacks through the scam.
In May 2016, Cagas was again elected as governor of Davao del Sur – his third term, after serving in the same post for two consecutive terms from 2007 to 2013. He celebrated his election victory at the Digos City district jail where he was detained since 2014 for the 2010 murder of journalist Nestor Bedolido.
In August 2016, a Davao court granted him bail, which allowed him to report for work at the provincial capitol. (READ: 48 lawmakers in PDAF-COA audit report win in 2016 elections)
According to the investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman, Cagas allotted part of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects in 2007.
The first time was in January 2007, when Cagas handpicked the Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation, Incorporated (CARED) and allotted P8 million to the nongovernmental organization (NGO), for a supposed livelihood project in his district.
CARED is among the NGOs ran by alleged pork scam queen Janet Lim Napoles.
Cagas also chose as implementing agency the now-abolished Technology and Livelihood Research Center (TLRC).
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) processed and released the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) to TLRC, which then released a disbursement voucher to the NGO. The group of Napoles took care of delivery reports and liquidation documents to back up, in paper, the non-existent project. (READ: Pork Tales: How the scam works)
In turn, Cagas received kickbacks from Napoles. The charge sheet mentioned former Energy Regulatory Commission chief Zenaida Ducut as the alleged middleman between Cagas and Napoles for the delivery of the kickback. Ducut was also charged for graft and malversation.
The same process took place in February 2007, when Cagas again chose a Napoles-run NGO, the Philippine Social Development Foundation Incorporated (PSDFI), for P8 million worth of ghost livelihood projects. Ducut again allegedly acted as the middleman.
For the two projects worth P16 million, Cagas supposedly earned a total of P9.3 million, while TLRC’s former director general, Antonio Ortiz, reportedly got P1.6 million. For these offenses Cagas and Ortiz face separate charges of direct bribery.
Charged along with Cagas, Ortiz and Ducut for two counts each of graft and malversation are:
- Mario Relampagos (DBM)
- Rosario Nunez (DBM)
- Lalaine Paule (DBM)
- Marilou Bare (DBM)
- Dennis Cunanan (TLRC)
- Francisco Figura (TLRC)
- Belina Concepcion (TLRC)
- Marivic Jover (TLRC)
- Maurine Dimaranan (TLRC)
- Janet Lim-Napoles
Napoles’ cohorts, Mylene Encarnacion, Evelyn de Leon, and Eulogio Rodriguez, are charged with one count each of graft and malversation for their involvement in their respective NGO projects.
The Ombudsman earlier noted that the projects should have raised red flags because of the haste in the the approval of all the examination, processing, and disbursement vouchers, which were all done in one day.
Cagas joins the growing list of former lawmakers who have been formally charged in court for their involvement in the multibillion peso PDAF scam, the biggest corruption scandal in the country.
Cagas’ son, Marc Douglas IV, former Davao del Sur 1st District representative, was earlier charged with graft and malversation for the misuse of P7.55 million worth of his pork barrel.
The matriarch of the family, Mercedes “Didi” Cagas, now holds the congressional seat after winning in 2016. – Rappler.com