MANILA, Philippines — Nine officials from different government offices have been ordered dismissed and perpetually disqualified from public office by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales over their alleged involvement in the pork barrel and Malampaya fund scams.
If any of them are no longer in government, “the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondents’ salaries for one year,” Morales added.
Six of the officials, sacked for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, are from the National Council for Muslim Filipinos: Mehol Sadain, Fedelina Aldanese, Galay Makalinggan, Sania Busran, Aurora Aragon-Mabang, and Olga Galido.
They, along with Michael Benjamin, political affairs chief of former Senator Gregorio Honasan, supposedly “participated in the preparation, processing and approval of the Memorandum of Agreement and the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) documents governing the project implementation and fund releases to Focus Development Goals Foundation, as NGO partner.”
Also ordered dismissed over a separate case were Teresita Panlilio and Ronald Venancio of the Department of Agrarian Reform, who are among 25 respondents charges for plunder, graft and malversation over their alleged involvement in the illegal diversion of P900 million from the Malampaya fund to fake nongovernmental organizations, in the same manner as the pork barrel scam.
In the case against the NCMF officials and Honasan’s staff, the Ombudsman’s investigation found that in April 2012, the Department of Budget and Management released P30 million as part of the then senator’s PDAF to finance small and medium enterprise and livelihood projects for Muslim Filipino communities in the National Capital Region and Zamables. The NCMF was named as implementing agency while Honasan endorsed Focus as the NGO partner.
However, the Ombudsman said the respondents prepared the check and disbursement voucher in favor of Focus “even before (1) the NGO was informed that it was found qualified to undertake the project on 04 June 2012; (2) the MOA was signed by the Office of Senator Honasan, NCMF and Focus; and (3) Honasan authorized the release of funds to Focus.”
Despite this, it said, Honasan and the respondents “facilitated and approved the payment in favor of Focus via two tranches totaling P29.1 million.”
In the case of the Malampaya fund scam, the Ombudsman said the P900 million was downloaded to DAR and distributed to 12 NGOs set up by Janet Lim Napoles, the businesswoman accused of also engineering the pork barrel scam, which siphoned off as much as P10 billion from lawmakers’ PDAF to bogus NGOs.
The Malampaya money was used for “ghost projects,” with the respondents drawing up lists of non-existent beneficiaries and forging their signatures.