Philippine judiciary

2 former Nabcor officials, private citizen face jail time, fines for PDAF scam involvement

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2 former Nabcor officials, private citizen face jail time, fines for PDAF scam involvement
Former National Agribusiness Corporation officials Encarnita-Cristina Munsod and Romulo Relevo, alongside Margie Tajon-Luz of GabayMasa Development Foundation, face up to 40 years each in jail and must pay back P9.7 million

MANILA, Philippines – Two former officials of the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) and a private individual face anywhere from 24 to 40 years in prison for involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

Former Nabcor human resource manager Encarnita-Cristina Munsod, former general services unit head Romulo Relevo and private defendant Margie Tajon-Luz, the president of GabayMasa Development Foundation Inc, are convicted of two counts of graft and two counts of malversation of public funds each, in relation to the PDAF allocations of former Eastern Samar Rep. Teodulo Coquilla.

Coquilla was a defendant back in 2017, when a case was filed by the Office of the Ombudsman but the cases against him were dismissed following his death in April of 2018.

In addition to jail time, the three face fines totaling P4.85 million, as well as the reimbursement of the same amount to the government – subject to 6% annual interest until the amount is fully repaid.

Individually liable

The Sandiganbayan held Munsod and Relevo individually liable for processing documents leading to taxpayers’ money being given out for bogus projects, despite testifying they were following the instructions of another person charged as co-accused: former Nabcor president Alan Javellana.

Aside from Javellana, chief accountant Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson and GabayMasa officer Ma. Cristina Vizcarra remain co-accused in the four cases. There are warrants of arrest out for them as well.

“The prosecution was able to prove that …accused Relevo, Munsod, and Luz conspired with accused Coquilla. [They] willingly went along with the ignoble scheme of accused Coquilla by completing the act of embezzling the PDAF-drawn funds through the implementation of a fictitious and non-existent livelihood project,” the court declared.

The court said, “The prosecution was able to prove that… accused Relevo, Munsod, and Luz conspired with accused Coquilla. [They] willingly went along with the ignoble scheme of accused Coquilla by completing the act of embezzling the PDAF-drawn funds through the implementation of a fictitious and non-existent livelihood project.”

What was taken

Prosecutors showed liquidation reports dating to before the release of funding from the Department of Budget and Management.

According to case records, P4.365 million was first released to Nabcor on January 23, 2008. An additional P485,000 was released on July 1, 2008.

Nabcor transferred the money to GabayMasa on January 26 and July 14, 2008, respectively.

The liquidation reports however, based on supporting receipts and sales invoices, were dated between November 7, 2007 and January 15, 2008.

The liquidations were for P4,849,995.87 – leaving only P2.33 from the amount it got from the government.

In its ruling, the court said it was “highly irregular and illogical” for defendants to claim GabayMasa used the money before it was transferred. It added,

“In the case at bar, the prosecution was able to prove by moral certainty that the accused, in conspiracy with one another, misappropriated the PDAF-drawn public funds. The evidence of the prosecution is overwhelming and has not been overcome by the accused,” the court added.

Associate Justice Ronald B. Moreno penned the 86-page Decision. Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito R. Fernandez concurred. – Rappler.com

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