Ombudsman orders filing of raps vs. ex-Ilocos Sur lawmaker over PDAF scam

A Catholic nun is joined by students of St. Scholastica's College as they hold signs and chant slogans to demand the abolition of a misused fund for legislators' pet projects, outside their campus in Manila August 28, 2013. On Monday, tens of thousands Filipinos marched through the centre of Manila and other cities to express indignation at the misuse of "pork barrel" funds under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). (MNS photo)

A Catholic nun is joined by students of St. Scholastica’s College as they hold signs and chant slogans to demand the abolition of a misused fund for legislators’ pet projects, outside their campus in Manila August 28, 2013. On Monday, tens of thousands Filipinos marched through the centre of Manila and other cities to express indignation at the misuse of “pork barrel” funds under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). (MNS photo)

MANILA, Aug 10 (Mabuhay) — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of criminal charges against former Ilocos Sur representative Salacnib Baterina in connection with the pork barrel scam.

The Ombudsman said Wednesday that Baterina will be charged with three counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, three counts of Malversation and one count of Direct Bribery for supposedly misusing his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2007.

The Ombudsman’s investigation showed that the Department of Budget and Management released P35 million of Baterina’s PDAF from January to February 2007 to fund the livelihood and farm input projects he identified for his constituents.

The lawmaker asked that the projects be implemented by the Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI) and the Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Inc. (KMFI) as non-government organization (NGO) implementors. He also requested that the funds be downloaded to the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) as implementing agency.

However, the Ombudsman found that none of the projects identified by Baterina were implemented and are thus considered as “ghost” projects.

Incumbent Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. was also charged as the Budget Secretary at that time because he issued the subject Sub-Allotment Release Orders and Notices of Cash Allotment even if the required project profiles and endorsements from the implementing agencies were not obtained in violation of DBM National Budget Circular No. 476, thus making the funds easily accessible to the TLRC and bogus NGOs.

Based on the testimony of whistleblower Benhur Luy, Janet Lim Napoles also gave commissions amounting to P7.5 million to Baterina.

He also alleged that it was former Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chairperson Zenaida Ducut who facilitated the transaction by acting as agent of Napoles for the former Ilocos Sur lawmaker.

The controversial businesswoman supposedly asked Ducut to look for lawmakers willing to deal with her in the implementation of their PDAF-funded projects.

For its part, the Commission on Audit noted lapses in use of Baterina’s PDAF allocation, including the lack of public bidding in the NGO-selection process; absence of documents supporting the actual utilization and liquidation of public funds; and the lack of list of beneficiaries, official receipts with municipal agriculturists in 11 municipalities denying receipt of any livelihood materials or farm inputs.

Morales said the complaints, as well as the testimonial and documentary evidence, “provided details which evidence the widespread misuse of the PDAF allotted to Baterina.”

The Ombudsman said Baterina’s pork barrel allocation “was coursed through a complex scheme for the supposed livelihood projects for the 1st district which turned out to be inexistent or ghost projects.”

Also ordered charged along with Baterina, Andaya, Napoles and Ducut were Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Maria Rosalina Lacsamana, Marivic Jover, Francisco Figura, Maurine Dimaranan, Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, Evelyn De Leon, Belina Concepcion, Carlos Soriano, France Mercado and Godofredo Roque.(MNS)

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