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Court orders arrest of ex-Bukidnon congressman for PDAF misuse

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has ordered the arrest of former Bukidnon representative Candido Pancrudo Jr and 5 others due to graft and malversation charges filed against them for the alleged misuse of Pancrudo's Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

In a resolution released to media on Wednesday, March 30, the court accepted the two malversation cases and one graft case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Pancrudo, private defendant Mark Espinosa, and former National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) officials Allan Javellana, Rhodora Mendoza, Maria Ninez Guañizo, and Victor Roman Cacal.

In the case filed before the Sandiganbayan, the defendants allegedly conspired in funneling P1.19 million of Pancrudo's PDAF into the Uswag Pilipinas Foundation Incorporated (UPFI) for livelihood projects that turned out to be non-existent.

Prosecutors claimed that the NGO, which Pancrudo personally endorsed to Nabcor, was chosen without public bidding.

"The court finds that sufficient grounds exist for the finding of probable cause for the purpose of issuing warrants of arrest," the Sandiganbayan said in the resolution.

A second graft charge was dismissed since its details were identical to those in the first graft case.

In the initial investigation conducted by the Ombudsman, it was found that Pancrudo also conspired with officers of state firm Technology Resource Center (TRC) and private foundation Farmerbusiness Development Corporation (FDC) to siphon off his PDAF.

Pancrudo reportedly had P8.2 million of his PDAF released to bogus NGOs.

The investigation against him and other lawmakers was conducted in July 2013, after news of the multi-billion-peso PDAF scam broke out.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the filing of graft and malversation charges against Pancrudo in July 2015. – Rappler.com