MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday, August 1, said it has found probable cause to file graft charges against former Leyte 3rd District representative Eduardo Veloso over his involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.
In 2007, Veloso requested the release of P24 million from his PDAF for livelihood and development projects in the 3rd District of Leyte. The Ombudsman said records show Veloso specifically requested the Technology Resource Center (TRC) as implementing agency and Aaron Foundation Philippines, Incorporated (AFPI) as the partner non-governmental organization (NGO).
AFPI reportedly has a lot of business with the House of Representatives, rivaling the NGOs of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
According to a Commission on Audit (COA) report covering 2007 to 2009, AFPI's transactions with lawmakers for those years reached P524.91 million. It's the 2nd biggest amount next to another Napoles rival, the Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation, Incorporated (KKAMFI).
But even though AFPI is not a Napoles NGO, the businesswoman had earlier included Veloso in the list of lawmakers she had transacted with.
"Field verifications conducted by the Ombudsman's Field Investigation Office revealed that the multimillion-peso PDAF was never used for the intended projects, which were discovered to be ghost projects," the Ombudsman said in a statement on Tuesday.
Local officials in the 3rd District also deny receiving the livelihood packages from Veloso.
AFPI was also questionable, according to COA.
"AFPI had no financial capability to undertake the project, as it had a measly capital stock contribution of only P68,000.00. It was also discovered that in 2007, the NGO declared a net loss of P5,840.00," the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman added that the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between Veloso and the partner-NGO was defective, with details such as the supplier and project duration missing.
Also indicted with Veloso were former TRC executives Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Francisco Figura, and Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana.
"The concerned TRC officers did not even bother to conduct a due diligence audit on AFPI as to its capability or qualification to undertake the livelihood project. Instead, they accepted the sole representation of Congressman Veloso and AFPI to undertake the projects in contravention on existing procurement laws and regulations," the Ombudsman resolution said. – Rappler.com