Ombudsman dismisses 12 gov’t execs in Php54-M PDAF scam

By Perfecto T.Raymundo

MANILA, Dec. 3 (PNA) — Twelve executives from the National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC), Technology Resource Center (TRC), including the now defunct National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR), were dismissed from the service for their participation in the anomalous utilization of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa amounting to Php54 million.

In a 58-page ruling, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales imposed the penalty of dismissal for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service against the 12 government officials, namely: Gondelina Amata, Chita Jalandoni, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Ofelia Ordoñez, Filipina Rodriguez and Sofia Cruz, all from NLDC; TRC’s Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu and Belina Concepcion; and Victor Cacal and Romulo Relevo of NABCOR.

Records show from 2007 to 2009, Dangwa received Php54 million as PDAF coursed through non-government organizations (NGOs) connected with Janet Lim Napoles and NLDC, NABCOR and TRC as implementing agencies.

Napoles is the alleged “brains” behind the Php10-billion pork barrel and the Php900-million Malampaya Fund scams.

The PDAF was intended for the acquisition of livelihood and agricultural assistance kits and packages.

In implementing the projects, Amata et.al., processed, facilitated and approved the transactions and payments for the bogus projects.

Based on the Special Audit Report of the Commission on Audit (COA), the agricultural and livelihood assistance kits/packages supposed to be delivered were non-existent or “ghost,”; the NGOs submitted fake or falsified supporting documents to support its liquidation; the Napoles-NGOs lacked the track record and capacity to implement the projects; no public bidding or accreditation process were undertaken; and to date, Php11 million of Dangwa’s PDAF remains unliquidated.

“In spite of these deficiencies, respondent public officers Amata, Cunanan, Cacal, Relevo, Sevidal, Cruz, Jalandoni, Jover, Rodriguez, Ordoñez, Espiritu and Concepcion, with indecent haste, expedited the release of the PDAF disbursements to the NGOs affiliated with or controlled by Napoles. These foregoing acts of respondents constitute Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service,” the Ombudsman ruling said.

The Ombudsman debunked their claim of good faith and presumption of regularity in the performance of their duties and ruled that “the act of certification or release of funds, approval and the affixation of signature in the disbursement vouchers, obligation slip and checks are neither mere formalities nor ministerial functions but involve the exercise of sound discretion that must be diligently performed as these are imbued with public interest.”

The 12 respondents were also meted out the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service. (PNA)