Ex-La Union congressman charged for P66.5-M PDAF scam

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has charged former La Union Second District Representative Thomas Dumpit Jr for the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The office said in a statement on Friday, May 20, that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found probable cause to charge Dumpit for 15 counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019), 9 counts of malversation through falsification of public documents, and 6 counts of malversation of public funds. 

The Ombudsman cited a Supreme Court ruling "that in a Congressional Pork Barrel System, it is the legislator who exercises actual control and custody of the PDAF share."

Dumpit will face trial before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan for the misuse of his DAF totalling P66.5 million.

The Ombudsman’s review of a Commission on Audit (COA) report found that Dumpit received a total of P66.5 million in PDAF from 2007 to 2009 to fund projects for the 2nd district of La Union “such as distribution of livelihood training kits, business clinics, market development, livelihood trainings, distribution of instructional and livelihood materials, grafted seedlings, hand tractors, water pumps, manicure sets, hairdressing kits and sewing machines.” 
The investigation showed these were "ghost projects" as  “no kits were distributed" and "no trainings conducted."

Documents submitted "were all fabricated," as suppliers denied issuing receipts and invoices cited in the liquidation reports. Many of the listed beneficiaries were allegedly not residents or registered voters of La Union.

Field interviews from public officials conducted by the Ombudsman’s investigators "certified that they were not recipients of the projects."

‘Extraordinary accommodation’

The Ombudsman said that rules on procurement were “repeatedly disregarded" in the selection of non-governmental organizations for the projects.

Dumpit identified the following as implementing agencies: National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC), National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR) and the Technological Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC).

He also identified and endorsed the following NGOs as recipients of his PDAF: Aaron Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. (AFPI), Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation (KKMFI) and Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. (KMBFI).

"Noteworthy is the extraordinary accommodation extended to the [NGOs] in the examination, processing and approval by the concerned implementing agencies in the PDAF releases," Morales said.

The Ombudsman cited instances when disbursement vouchers "were accomplished, signed and approved within a one-day interval, if not the same day." Copies of the resolutions were also forwarded to the Anti-Money Laundering Council for action on possible violations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act. 

Dumpit ran for reelection in 2016 under the National Unity Party. He is a far second behind former Agoo Mayor Sandra Eriguel of the National People’s Coalition, with 40,201 votes to her 150,201.

The following individuals were also included in the charge sheet along with Dumpit:

– Rappler.com