Plunder raps vs GMA over Malampaya fund

Natashya Gutierrez

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Janet Lim Napoles, political liaison Ruby Tuason, 21 Cabinet execs and NGO presidents are charged too. Justice Secretary De Lima says P337M in kickbacks were distributed by Napoles to gov't officials.

MANILA, Philippines – Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and 5 of her Cabinet officials have been named in the plunder complaint filed by the justice department over the alleged misuse of the highly discretionary Malampaya fund.

Also named respondents in the complaint filed with the Ombudsman on Thursday, October 3, are an incumbent budget undersecretary, 4 other agrarian reform department employees, a Pampanga mayor, political liaison Ruby Tuason, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, and 10 of her dummies who were registered as presidents of her fake non-governmental organizations that utilized the funds.

They are accused of misusing P900 million in the Malampaya fund that was allotted by the President to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in 2009.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in a press conference at the Ombudsman’s office, said P337 million in kickbacks were distributed by Napoles to government officials. 

In a Senate hearing, whistleblower Benhur Luy said Napoles used the Malampaya fund from the DA to advance the kickback of lawmakers in another scam involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund.

The Malampaya Fund, proceeds from the Malampaya natural gas operations off the shore of Palawan, is an off-budget money – meaning, it is not appropriated in the annual budget laws, and is allocated any which way the President wants.

The allocation of the multi-billion-dollar proceeds will be under the sole discretion of the President – effectively making it the President’s pork barrel – until the Supreme Court resolves the years-long dispute over the sharing scheme between the national and local governments.

Sought to be indicted for plunder are:

  • Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
  • Former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita
  • Former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr (now Camarines Sur congressman)
  • Former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Nasser Pangandaman
  • Former DAR Undersecretary Rafael Nieto
  • Former DAR finance officer Teresita Panlilio
  • DBM Undersecretary Mario Relampagos
  • Angelita Cacananta (DAR)
  • Nilda Baui (DAR)
  • Dominador Sison Jr (DAR)
  • Ronald Venancio (DAR)
  • Candaba Mayor Rene Maglanque

Also named respondents are:

  • Janet Lim Napoles, alleged mastermind
  • Ruby Tuason, alleged liaison, who is also a respondent in the plunder case involving senators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund

The following dummy presidents of Napoles’ NGOs are also named respodents:

  • Evelyn de Leon
  • Ronald John Lim, Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation (Napoles’ nephew)
  • Ronald Francisco Lim, Micro Agri Business Citizens Initiative (Napoles’ brother)
  • John Raymond de Asis, Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation
  • Genevieve Uy, Kasaganahan para sa Magsasaka Foundation
  • Simplicio Gumafelix of Karangyaan, Magbubukid Foundation
  • Jesus Castillo, Dalangpan Sang Amon Utod Foundation
  • Lilian Espanol, Saganang Buhay sa Atin Foundation
  • Lorna Ramirez, Masaganang Buhay Foundation
  • Eulogio Rodriguez, Gintong Pangkabuhayan 

'SHAMELESS.' This is how counsel for the whistleblowers Levito Baligod (shown here presenting the evidence) describes how the accused plundered the Malampaya fund. Photo by Natashya Gutierrez/Rappler

The details of the scam indicated in the complaint were earlier reported by Rappler: How the Malampaya fund was plundered.

The complaint accuses Napoles of forging 97 letters of request to DAR from municipal mayors for ghost projects in 2009. 

The complaint says Andaya approved the release to DAR, while DAR’s Panlilio and Nieto signed documents releasing the money to Napoles per instruction of Pangandaman.

Counsel of whistleblowers Levito Baligod said they have documentary evidence showing the full process: the receipt of the money by the NGOs, liquidation of the cash even without implementation, and the receipt of kickbacks by government officials involved.

“Malampaya is only one indication of how they abused all of us. They really had no shame,” Baligod said.

While the Malampaya fund is reserved for energy-related projects, the P900 million released to Napoles was supposed to assist farmers affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

After a series of typhoons battered the country in 2009, then President Arroyo issued Executive Order 848 on Oct 13, 2009, to expand the use of the Special Account (Fund 151) in the General Fund of the Department of Energy.

This essentially allowed them to tap the Malampaya fund for rehabilitation and reconstruction purposes.

However, De Lima said, they found that the EO was issued only 5 days after Napoles’ requests were approved by the agrarian reform department. –

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.