MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal of 6 government officials for their involvement in the multi-billion peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, her office announced on on Friday, May 20.
The Ombudsman said in a statement that Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, and Consuelo Lilian Espiritu of the Technology Resource Center (TRC); and Maria Ninez Guañizo, Victor Roman Cacal, and Rhodora Mendoza from the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) have been dismissed from the service.
Cunanan, former TRC chief, had offered to tell all at the Senate probe into the PDAF scam but the Ombudsman rejected his application to turn state witness. (READ: 5 questions on Dennis Cunanan and Janet Napoles, Dennis Cunanan, the biggest losers in pork barrel case)
The dismissal orders were issued after they were found administratively liable for grave misconduct and serious dishonesty.
Morales also ordered the forfeiture of all their retirement benefits and their perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
The Ombudsman's special panel of investigators found the officials liable for their "indispensable cooperation and conspiracy in the anomalous utilization" of the PDAF of Representatives Candido Pancrudo Jr of the 1st District of Bukidnon and Reno Lim of the 2nd District of Albay.
From 2007 to 2010, P49.2 million of Pancrudo's PDAF was released for livelihood training and kits for farmers, while P30 million of Lim's PDAF was spent on livelihood training resources in 2007.
The Ombudsman's field investigation, however, revealed that project were bogus, and that the lawmakers endorsed questionable non-governmental organizations that were chosen without complying with procurement rules Their liquidation reports were also found to be fabricated.
"While they may argue that they had nothing to do with the submission of these falsified documents, the patent inconsistencies or irregularities should have alerted them and urged them to exercise more caution in the approval of the Disbursement Vouchers," Morales said.
"Respondents [exhibited] a deliberate lack of care or diligence in the performance of their respective duties in such a way as to achieve the common design of defrauding the government," she added.
The Ombudsman had earlier ordered the filing of graft and malversation charges against Lim in November 2015 over the PDAF scam.
The other respondents in the case include 5 TRC officials, Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation Incorporated representatives, and Carmelita Barredo of C.C. Barredo Publishing House.