Children’s council chief charged over P10M worth of ghost projects

MANILA, Philippines – The Ombudsman charged with graft former Caloocan 2nd District representative and now Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) Executive Director Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy for spending P10 million on projects that turned out to be non-existent.

The 2 counts of graft filed with the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan involve malversation of public funds and falsification of public documents covering the time when Uy served as Caloocan representative.

Uy allotted P10 million from her Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for ghost projects, the Ombudsman said. The money passed through the non-government organization Kaloocan Assistance Council Incorporated (KACI) in 2009. 

KACI, through its president Cenon Mayor, disbursed supposed burial and financial assistance to beneficiaries without documents and illegally used 20% of the project in administrative expenses, according to the charge sheets filed by the Office of the Ombudsman at the Sandiganbayan.

Charged with Uy for failing to monitor the project, are Mayor and former officials of implementing agency Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – former secretary Esperanza Cabral, former undersecretary Mateo Montaño, former assistant secretary Vilma Cabrera, former chief accountant Leonila Hayahay, and former assistant director Pacita Sarino.

“Cajayon-Uy, Cabral, Montaño, Cabrwra, Sabino and Hayahay allowed Mayor of KACI to take possession and thus misappropriate PDAF-drawn public funds, instead of implementing the PDAF-funded projects, which turned out to be non-existent,” said the charge sheet for graft.

For the P7 million worth of projects, Uy and the other officials were accused of allowing KACI to “falsify acceptance and delivery reports, disbursement reports, project proposals, list of beneficiaries and other liquidation documents.”

Asked to comment, Uy instead asked on the phone why this reporter was interested in her cases and then hung up.

KACI and Asistio

Uy allegedly “unilaterally chose and endorsed” KACI for the projects.

The KACI projects should have been red flags for Uy, said the Ombudsman investigators, because the organization had already been linked to a previous scam.

During the term of former Caloocan 2nd District Representative Luis “Baby” Asistio, PDAF-funded KACI projects from 2006-2009 were also unliquidated. Asistio has also been indicted over the flagged PDAF projects.

Ombudsman investigators pointed out that Asistio may have conceived the scheme because “KACI’s incorporators and officers are his political coordinators and supporters and that its office was located on the same property as Asistio’s office.”

“The Ombudsman also found it alarming that Uy approved the release of funds despite the NGO’s admission that it had failed to liquidate projects from 2006 to 2007,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said in her indictment of Uy in September 2017.

If the court finds probable cause to issue warrants of arrest, Uy and the other respondents have to each pay P300,000 bail – P60,000 for the 2 counts of graft, P40,000 for malversation of public funds, and P200,000 for malversation thru falsification of public documents.

Uy is also embroiled in a CWC issue after the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the CWC’s payment of P1.05 million to a reporter of radio dZMM. The COA has asked for a refund, and dzMM said it would investigate the issue. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.