Ex-Sarangani rep linked to PDAF scam dies in the US

Edwin G. Espejo

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Family members said the lawmaker died of liver cancer in the US on August 25; He was buried in Manila September 14

LINKED TO SCAM. Former Sarangani Rep Erwin Chiongbian, who died August 25 in the US, has been linked to the pork barrel scam. File photo by Cocoy Sexcion

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Former Sarangani congressman Erwin Chiongbian has died of liver cancer, his nephew and Sarangani Gov. Steve Solon said Wednesday, September 18.

News of Chiongbian’s death was not immediately reported although family members said the lawmaker died of liver cancer in the US on August 25.

Chiongbian was buried on Saturday, September 14, in Manila.

He served the House of Representatives for 3 consecutive terms, from 2001 to 2010.

Chiongbian was among those named in the P10-billion scam involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of members of Congress.

According to the website of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), P28.80 million and P15 million in PDAFs were released to Chiongbian’s office in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

The National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) was named sole recipient of the congressman’s P15-million PDAF in 2010.

Reports said a total of P65.35 M were released to the late congressman.

Former Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez, however, said he was not aware of any projects of NLDC funded by the PDAF of Chiongbian while he was governor of the province.

Dominguez was governor of Sarangani from 2004-2013.

No charges yet

The NLDC has been named as among the conduits of PDAF from lawmakers that were reportedly diverted into the accounts of congressmen and senators and businesswoman Janet Napoles.

Napoles stands co-accused of plunder and malversation of public funds along with at least three senators and several congressmen after witnesses said she masterminded the systematic re-channeling of PDAF funds through bogus non-government organizations and government-owned and controlled corporations.

Although Chiongbian was initially named in the report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) when the fund scam broke out, no formal charges has been filed against the late lawmaker.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima however said the government will file charges against lawmakers named by at least 11 whistleblowers by batches.

A similar fund scam also broke out in Sarangani in 2003 after a Commission on Audit report revealed some P43 million in the coffers of the provincial government were diverted into the pockets of high ranking officials and employees of Sarangani.

Most of those charged were former allies of Chiongbian who denounced the fund scam in the province.

Former Sarangani Gov. Miguel Escobar and incumbent Provincial Board Member Eugene Alzate are among those who were found guilty by the Sandiganbayan. They were sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison and perpetual disqualification from public office.

They are now appealing their conviction.

Chiongbian’s father, the late James Chiongbian, was responsible for the creation of Sarangani as a province in 1992.

His mother Prisicilla, was the first governor of Sarangani and served for 3 terms. – Rappler.com

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