Syjucos face P20-M pork misuse case
ILOILO CITY—The Office of the Ombudsman has filed another set of corruption charges in the Sandiganbayan against former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director General Augusto Syjuco Jr. and his wife, former Iloilo Rep. Judy Syjuco, this time for misuse of pork barrel funds.
The couple and two others were charged with violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) for the misuse of P20 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Judy Syjuco, according to a statement released on Thursday by the Ombudsman’s public information and media relations bureau.
Also charged were former Tesda Deputy Director General for Field Operations Santiago Yabut Jr. and Maria Nela Yniesta, head of Tagipusuon Cooperative.
The charges were filed on Aug. 5 after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales affirmed the antigraft body’s April 24, 2013, resolution and June 27 order finding probable cause against the four accused.
The Ombudsman has filed a total of 18 graft cases against Augusto in the Sandiganbayan, according to an official of the Office of the Ombudsman who asked not to be identified for lack of authority to release information.
Augusto has repeatedly denied being corrupt and accused the Aquino administration of persecuting him because he was close to now detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The latest case stemmed from the 2005 disbursement of P20 million
from Judy’s PDAF through Tesda for a project implemented by Tagipusuon Cooperative, a nongovernment organization founded by Augusto.
The funds were originally appropriated for Tesda’s Invigorating Constituent Assistance in Reinforcing Employment
(I-Care) program, a technical and vocational job-related skills training program.
But the Syjuco couple, with Yabut and Yniesta, entered into a deal on
Dec. 23, 2005, “to make it appear” that a project of Judy “is a counterpart project of the I-Care program to attain a semblance of legitimacy in the disbursement of P20 million,” the Ombudsman statement said.
Under the deal, P15 million from Judy’s pork was used to purchase school uniforms, bags and supplies for public elementary and high school students in Iloilo’s second congressional district, which Judy represented.
Morales affirmed the 2013 Ombudsman resolution saying the “funds were eventually disbursed for the implementation of a project which was clearly inconsistent with the mandate of the implementing agency (Tesda) to the detriment of the intended beneficiaries of the I-Care program.”
Tagipusuon was also unqualified to implement the project because its primary objective was to provide livelihood projects for women, according to the resolution.
Morales also noted that P916,000 from Judy’s PDAF was used to pay the salaries of the cooperative’s members and employees, and another P546,181 was used on office rental, hotel expenses, phone bills and other expenses.
The Ombudsman sent copies of its resolution and order to the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
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