Aquino ally Biazon faces pork barrel scam charges
Resigned Customs commissioner Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon was formally charged before the Sandiganbayan on Friday for malversation, graft and direct bribery for allegedly receiving kickbacks from accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles over the pork barrel scam.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor filed one count each of malversation, graft and direct bribery against Biazon for his alleged criminal activities as Muntinlupa representative in 2007.
Biazon is an ally of President Benigno Aquino III under the Liberal Party. He resigned as Customs commissioner in 2013 after the Department of Justice included him in the pork barrel scam complaint.
Charged with Biazon is his alleged agent former Energy Regulatory Commissioner Zenaida Ducut, a former Pampanga representative who allegedly acted as an agent for Napoles in the House of Representatives.
Ducut was said to have toured Napoles in the House of Representatives, according to whistleblower Merlina Suñas.
According to the malversation charge, Biazon with Ducut and Napoles “willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously appropriate, take, misappropriate, and or allow Napoles to take public funds” worth P2.7 million.
Biazon allegedly misappropriated P3 million of his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to Napoles’ bogus foundation Philippine Social Development Foundation (PSDFI), which implemented Biazon’s pork barrel funds intended for livelihood projects for the barangays (villages) of Muntinlupa.
Biazon and his respondents were also charged with violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for causing undue injury to government in coursing his pork barrel funds to the spurious foundation without public bidding, committing evident bad faith, manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence.
The project using Biazon’s PDAF turned out to be non-existent.
“Biazon and the above-named public officials appropriated, took, misappropriated, and/or allowed Napoles and her cohorts, through PSDFI, to take possession and thus misappropriate PDAF-drawn public funds instead of implementing the PDAF-funded projects, which turned out to be non-existent,” the prosecution said.
Biazon was also charged with direct bribery for allegedly receiving P1.95 million from Napoles in exchange for his endorsement of her nongovernment organization to receive his pork barrel funds.
“Biazon, through Ducut, received commissions and/or ‘kickbacks’ from Napoles in consideration of his participation and collaboration as described above,” the prosecution said.
The prosecutors said Biazon endorsed the foundation to the implementing agency which was supposed to implement the project without conducting a public bidding.
Biazon chose the implementing agency Technology Resource Center (TRC) to course his PDAF to the bogus foundation.
Also charged with Biazon were Napoles and her employee Evelyn De Leon for preparing the acceptance and delivery reports, disbursement reports, project proposal, and other liquidation documents to “conceal the fictitious nature of the transaction, to the damage and prejudice of the Republic of the Philippines,” the prosecution said.
The prosecution also charged TRC officials for failing to verify the qualifications of the bogus foundation—director general Antonio Ortiz, deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, group manager Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, group manager Francisco Figura, budget officer Consuelo Espiritu, chief accountant Marivic Jover, and internal auditor V and division chief Maurine Dimaranan.
For expediting the issuance of the special allotment release orders to release Biazon’s PDAF, budget undersecretary Mario Relampagos was also charged with his staff Rosario Nuñez, Marilou Bare, and Lalaine Paule.
According to the charge sheet, the bail is set at P30,000 for one count of graft, P40,000 for one count of malversation, and P20,000 for one count of direct bribery.
Biazon is the next to be formally charged before the Sandiganbayan from the second batch of lawmakers sued before the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged involvement in the scheme of diverting their PDAF to ghost projects for kickbacks.
The pork charges were already filed before the Sandiganbayan against former Davao del Norte Rep. Arrel Olaño, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rodolfo Valencia and former Davao Del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV.
The Sandiganbayan is hearing the plunder cases over the pork barrel scam of Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and former Apec party-list representative Edgar Valdez and dismissed Masbate governor Rizalina Seachon Lañete; as well as the malversation cases against former Cagayan de Oro representative Constantino Jaraula, former Benguet representative Samuel Dangwa, and former Agusan Del Sur representative Rodolfo Plaza.
Revilla and Estrada are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center after their bail petitions were denied, while the elderly Enrile was allowed by the Supreme Court to post bail from hospital detention due to humanitarian considerations.
Meanwhile, Valdez and Lañete were allowed to post bail from their detention at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig after the prosecution failed to prove that they received millions of kickbacks from Napoles. RAM
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