Ombudsman dismisses 12 govt execs over P54M PDAF scam

MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has ordered the dismissal of top executives of the National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC), Technology Resource Center (TRC), and the defunct National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) over the misuse of P54 million ($1.144 million) of a former lawmaker's pork barrel funds.

In a 58-page decision released on Thursday, December 3, Morales imposed the penalty of dismissal for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service against the following:

They were also meted out the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service.

The Ombudsman said that based on records, then Benguet Representative Samuel Dangwa received P54 million as PDAF coursed non-governmental organizations linked to alleged PDAF scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles from 2007 to 2009.

NLDC, Nabcor, and TRC were the implementing agencies. The 12 officials processed, facilitated, and approved the transactions and payments for the projects – later discovered to be "bogus" – which involved the acquisition of livelihood and agricultural assistance kits and packages.

The Ombudsman cited the findings of the Special Audit Report of the Commission on Audit:

“In spite of these deficiencies, respondent public officers Amata, Cunanan, Cacal, Relevo, Sevidal, Cruz, Jalandoni, Jover, Rodriguez, Ordoñez, Espiritu and Concepcion, with indecent haste, expedited the release of the PDAF disbursements to the NGOs affiliated with or controlled by Napoles. These foregoing acts of respondents constitute Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service,” the Ombudsman said in its decision.

The Ombudsman debunked the officials' claim of good faith and presumption of regularity in the performance of their duties.

“The act of certification or release of funds, approval and the affixation of signature in the disbursement vouchers, obligation slip and checks are neither mere formalities nor ministerial functions but involve the exercise of sound discretion that must be diligently performed as these are imbued with public interest,” the decision stated.

In February, the Ombudsman filed before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan plunder and graft cases against 5 former lawmakers for their alleged involvement in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, including Dangwa.

Dangwa faces 5 counts of malversation and 5 counts of graft. – Rappler.com

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