(Nightlead) Palace assures DBM’s full cooperation in probe on alleged misuse of Malampaya, PDAF

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, (PNA) — Malacanang on Thursday assured of the Dept. of Budget and Management’s “full cooperation” in the investigation on the alleged misuse of the Malampaya fund and the Priority Development Assistance Fund.

“The DBM will cooperate fully with the investigation, especially with respect to the present inquiry in the use of Malampaya funds/PDAF,” said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a text message to Palace reporters.

The Dept. of Justice earlier filed plunder and graft charges against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, and several others for the alleged misuse of the P900-million Malampaya fund.

The DOJ also filed plunder raps to other incumbent and former government officials — former Budget and Management Secretary and now Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, DBM Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, former Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Narciso Nieto, Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) Secretariat Teresita Panlilio, Candaba Mayor Rene Maglanque, Angelita Cacananta of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Nilda Bawi of DAR, and Dominador Sison Jr. of DAR, Ronaldo Venancio of DAR.

The DOJ also recommended the filing of plunder complaints against businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the pork barrel scam, as well as presidents and officers of alleged fake non-government organizations set up by Napoles.

The complaint accuses the respondents of misusing P900-million in Malampaya funds that were supposed to help victims of Tropical Storms Ondoy and Peping in 2009.

According to whistle-blowers, the fund went to fake NGOs allegedly set up by Janet Lim Napoles and then diverted to private pockets.

Malacanang has refused to comment on the alleged involvement of Relampagos in the fund mess.

“We cannot comment on Usec Relampagos’s alleged involvement in this matter,” said Lacierda.

“We will also wait until the investigation has concluded before we proceed with the appropriate course of action,” he added.