Ombudsman files plunder, graft charges vs 5 ex-lawmakers

Angela Casauay

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Ombudsman files plunder, graft charges vs 5 ex-lawmakers
(UPDATED) The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has raffled off the cases of the 5 former lawmakers accused of misusing P339 million in pork barrel funds in connivance with alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday, February 5, formally filed before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan plunder and graft cases against 5 former lawmakers for their alleged involvement in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.  

They are:

  • Former Masbate representative and incumbent Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete – Plunder and 11 counts of graft
  • Former APEC party-list representative Edgar Valdez – Plunder and 7 counts of graft 
  • Former Benguet representative Samuel Dangwa – 5 counts of malversation and 5 counts of graft
  • Former Agusan del Sur representative Rodolfo Plaza – Malversation and 6 counts of graft
  • Former Cagayan de Oro representative Constantino Jaraula – Malversation and 3 counts of graft

They are accused of misusing a total of P339 million worth of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) during their stint in Congress.

The Sandiganbayan raffled off the cases on Friday, February 6 as follows: Valdez, Fifth Division; Jaraula, First Division; Plaza, Second Division; Dangwa, Third Division; and Lanete, Fourth Division.

The Ombudsman had earlier denied the motions for reconsideration of the 5 lawmakers for the finding of probable cause in their cases. (READ: Plunder, bribery charges vs 5 more lawmakers in pork barrel mess)

This is the second batch of pork barrel scam cases to be filed in connection with the scheme allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim Napoles. Three senators were earlier charged in the first batch of plunder and graft cases filed before the Sandiganbayan over the biggest corruption scandal to hit the Philippines in recent years. 

Lanete allegedly misused up to P112.29 million worth of her PDAF on ghost projects  coursed through dummy non-profit foundations allegedly controlled by Napoles.

Valdez is accused of misusing pork barrel funds amounting to P95 million. Dangwa, Plaza, and Jaraula allegedly misused P54 million, P27.5 million, and P50.5 million, respectively.

Senators Ramon Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile are detained at custodial center in Camp Crame while plunder cases filed against them are being heard.

The landmark Commission on Audit report on the alleged misuse of PDAF funds tagged 192 lawmakers.

Public outrage over the exposés triggered calls to scrap the pork barrel sytem, forcing lawmakers to abolish the PDAF scheme. The Supreme Court later declared any form of lawmakers’ discretionary funds as unconstitutional.

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