Ombudsman raps ex-Nueva Ecija solon, 7 others for Php 14.55-M PDAF scam

MANILA — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of two counts of malversation charges and two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, against former Nueva Ecija (4th District) Rep. Rodolfo Antonino and seven others for anomalies in the disbursement of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Also ordered charged are former Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur Yap; Alan Javellana, Rhodora Mendoza, Encarnita Cristina Munsod, Maria Ninez Guañizo, all from the National Agri-Business Corp. (NABCOR).

Likewise, indicted are Marilou Antonio, representative of Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. (BMMKFI) and Carmelita Barredo of C.C. Barredo Publishing House.

In his January 2007 letter, Antonino requested and directly endorsed NABCOR and BMMKFI to the DA as implementors of his livelihood training kits (LTK) project.

On March 22, 2007, the BMMKFI through Antonino, exclusively procured from C.C. Barredo 7,275 sets of LTKs worth Php 2,000 each, or a total of Php 14.55 million.

A day later, or on March 23, 2007, the supplier allegedly delivered the LTKs in Roxas Boulevard which were accepted and acknowledged by Antonino.

Upon actual field verification, it was found that these were ghost projects as several local officials of Nueva Ecija denied ever receiving any of the LTKs.

Neither was the project supported by any project proposal, physical and audited financial reports, monitoring reports or due diligence conducted in the supplier and NGO-selection process.

There was also no public bidding or any procurement conducted for the project.

Ombudsman Morales said that “the evidence established that respondent public officers conspired with private respondents in this disreputable scheme to defraud government coffers” by preparing fictitious reports and other liquidation documents that would make it appear that the PDAF-funded project was implemented.

Morales added that “in a Congressional Pork Barrel System, including the PDAF, it is the legislator who exercises actual control and custody of the PDAF share allocated to him.” PNA/northboundasia.com