Quantcast
Latest Stories

Agriculture official named by Benhur Luy back on the job

By

Ophelia Agawin: Back at the DA. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Ophelia Agawin, identified by whistle-blower Benhur Luy as alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles’ conduit in the Department of Agriculture (DA) under the Arroyo and Aquino administrations, is back at her job as assistant secretary at the DA despite lingering questions on her role in the scam.

Agawin, the public accountant also at the heart of an alleged P432-million fertilizer fund scam engineered by then Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante in 2003, went on leave last October to give way to the DA’s investigation into the department funds she channeled to bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) allegedly controlled by Napoles.

Agawin claimed, however, that she went on leave to take care of a sick parent.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Agawin could not be suspended for her alleged ties to Napoles since she has not been named in the two sets of charges filed by the Department of Justice and National Bureau of Investigation with the Ombudsman in the pork scam case.

Plunder charges

Both Agawin and Alcala, however, have been charged with plunder in a case filed by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

Agawin was a treasurer and director of ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) from 2006 to 2010. Based on a Commission on Audit (COA) report, ZREC was used as a conduit for the release of P282-million in pork barrel funds of Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr. and former APEC party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez and former Buhay party-list Rep. Rene Velarde.

In his September 2013 affidavit to the NBI, Luy said that Agawin received 10 percent in commissions from the pork barrel funds that went through ZREC.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Salvador Salacup, who was ZREC president from 2006 to 2010, was the only ZREC official named in the pork barrel scam case.

Salacup, who has been on leave since October, has filed a counter-affidavit with the Ombudsman claiming that he had no contact or ties with Napoles as Luy and other whistle-blowers had only mentioned Agawin as Napoles’ broker in ZREC.

Salacup also said his role in the transactions were only “ministerial” as the pork funds were pushed for by former Agriculture Undersecretary Berni C. Fondevilla and former Assistant Secretary Eduardo Nolasco.

Dealings continued

Despite the alarm raised by the COA on ZREC’s failure to liquidate the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) during her watch, Agawin apparently continued her business dealings with Napoles, as reported by Luy.

In November 2012, Agawin took charge of the paper work for Alcala’s order reprogramming P174.381 million in idle funds (from 2011 to 2012) from the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards to the organic agriculture-related projects of local government units.

The funds were to be disposed of by Alcala’s province mate and Agawin’s boss, Undersecretary Antonio Fleta, who signed most of the agreements with the NGOs. Alcala said his department would release its audit of the funds soon.

In Luy’s testimony, he claimed that these organic farming projects were among the last transactions he concluded with Agawin before he and Napoles had a falling out. Napoles held Luy in detention because she suspected him of making the same deals with other operators.

During this period, Agawin was also in charge of vetting the NGOs accredited by the DA for its fund releases, which was the reason Napoles’ NGOs were able to obtain government funds in the Aquino administration.

RELATED STORIES:

Agri exec in NGO deals relieved

Another DA agency linked to pork scam


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Benhur Luy , Department of Agriculture , Ophelia Agawin , Philippines , pork barrel scam




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  2. Chinese lawyers say they were tortured by police
  3. Hair salon’s Kim Jong Un poster riles embassy
  4. Siquijor ‘healer’: For every cure, there’s a plant
  5. State seeks guilty verdict for Abalos
  6. Why college grads end up in the PNP
  7. Estrada: I will pray for my detractors
  8. Miraculous image makes Gapan City top site for pilgrimage in Central Luzon
  9. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  10. Five men from Cavite found dead in jeep in Batangas
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
Advertisement

News

  • 20 killed as Islamic extremists rampage in Nigeria
  • Drug firm Novartis to help Leyte firefighter
  • Fears grow for hundreds missing in South Korea ferry capsize
  • Robot sub makes first complete search for plane
  • uFly fires flight simulator who appeared on CNN
  • Sports

  • Federer would skip tennis to be with wife, newborn
  • Manny Pacquiao in PBA? If so, he’ll wear No. 17
  • PSC sets Blu Girls US training
  • Power Pinoys settle for 7th place
  • Successful coaches to get raise
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • ‘Community’ star happy with return of show’s creator
  • Jealousy is kid stuff
  • Business

  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • PH seen to sustain rise in FDIs
  • Gov’t subsidies to state firms fell in first 2 months
  • Technology

  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest
  • Milpitas, California kids wrap up a successful run of ‘The Wiz’
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement