More lawmakers to be charged over PDAF scam

Buena Bernal
More lawmakers to be charged over PDAF scam
This is the second batch of cases the Ombudsman is set to file before the anti-graft court in relation to Janet Napoles' multi-million-peso PDAF diversion scheme

MANILA, Philippines – Six months after it found probable cause to charge in court a first batch of lawmakers over the pork barrel scam, the Ombudsman approved the indictment of 4 more lawmakers involved in the same massive scheme.

In a joint resolution released Friday, October 3, the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict the following over the alleged misuse of a total of P244.29 million ($5.4 million)* in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel: 

  • Former Masbate Representative Rizalina Seachon-Lanete – plunder and graft
  • Former Benguet Representative Samuel Dangwa – graft, malversation, and direct bribery
  • Former Agusan Del Sur Representative Rodolfo Plaza – graft, malversation, and direct bribery
  • Former Cagayan de Oro Representative Constantino Jaraula – graft, malversation, and direct bribery

The 4 former lawmakers are headed to court in the absence of an appeal.

To be charged with plunder and multiple counts of graft along with Lanete are her chief of staff Jose Sumalpong and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles and her former driver-bodyguard John Raymund de Asis. They allegedly connived to illegally disburse P112.29 million ($2.5 million) in PDAF from 2007 to 2009.  

Lanete allegedly allowed her PDAF to fund ghost projects that could have gone to farmer-beneficiaries. These projects were hosted on paper by dummy non-profit foundations allegedly controlled by Napoles.

Napoles allegedly paid off the then congresswoman. State witnesses Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, and Merlina Suñas – former aides of Napoles – claimed  the money was either received by the congresswoman’s aide Sumalpong or deposited to her personal bank account in Metrobank Fairview branch.  

“Luy’s ledger indicates that from 2004 to 2010, Seachon-Lanete received total commissions or kickbacks in the amount of P108,405,000 ($2.4 million), which included P73,065,000 ($1.6 million) received from 2007 to 2009,” the joint resolution read.

With De Asis and many others, Napoles is facing plunder and graft cases before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

This is the second batch of cases the Ombudsman is set to file before the court in relation to Napoles’ multi-million-peso PDAF diversion scheme.

“Certainly, these repeated, illegal transfers of public funds to Napoles’ control, purportedly for projects which did not exist, and just as repeated irregular disbursements thereof, present quantifiable pecuniary losses to the Government,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said. 

The former lawmakers can still appeal the Ombudsman’s joint resolution. If their motions for reconsideration are dismissed, the cases will be filed in court. 

Other lawmakers

The Ombudsman also found probable cause to charge Benguet’s Dangwa, his chiefs of staff Erwin Dangwa and Carlos Lozada, Napoles, as well as Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and his staff officers of malversation and 6 counts of graft.

They allegedly misused P54 million in PDAF from 2001 to 2010.

Dangwa will also be charged in court for 5 counts of direct bribery, while Napoles with 5 counts of corruption of public officials.

On the other hand, Agusan del Sur’s Plaza is set to be indicted for 5 counts of malversation and 5 counts of graft with his chief of staff Jasper Kapunan, Napoles, Relampagos, and 24 others for misused PDAF amounting to P27.5 million ($613,307)* in 2008 and 2009.

Plaza also faces two counts of direct bribery, while Napoles faces another two counts of corruption of public officials.

Lastly, criminal cases for 3 counts of malversation and 3 counts of graft are to be filed against Cagayan de Oro’s Jaraula, Napoles, Relampagos, and several others for P50.5 million ($1.1 million)* in unlawfully disbursed PDAF from 2004 to 2007.

Additional cases for 3 counts of direct bribery are to be filed against Jaraula, while another 3 counts of corruption of public official against Napoles.

Also to be prosecuted with the 4 former lawmakers are officers of state-owned corporations where their PDAF were coursed through, officers with the budget department who allegedly helped facilitate the fund releases, and representatives of the NGOs that unlawfully received PDAF.

Approved for indictment are:

  • Department of Budget and Management (DBM) staff Rosario Nuñez
  • DBM staff Lalaine Paule
  • DBM staff Marilou Bare
  • Technology Resource Center (TRC) Director General Antonio Ortiz
  • TRC Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan
  • TRC Department Manager Francisco Figura and Chief Accountant Marivic Jover
  • National Agri-Business Corporation (Nabcor) President Alan Javellana
  • NABCOR Paralegal Victor Roman Cacal
  • NABCOR General  Services Unit Head Romulo Relevo
  • NABCOR Bookkeeper Maria Ninez Guañizo
  • NABCOR Chief Accountant Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson
  • NABCOR Director for Financial Management Services Rhodora Mendoza
  • National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) President Gondelina Amata
  • NLDC Division Chief Gregoria Buenaventura
  • NLDC Director Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal
  • NLDC Chief Financial Specialist Sofia Cruz
  • NLDC Department Manager Chita Jalandoni
  • officers/representatives of the following NGOs: the Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation (CARED), Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI), Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc, (PSDFI) and the Social Development Program for Farmer Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI). –

*US$1 = PP44.84

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