Ombudsman orders filing of graft charges vs Cagas
The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday ordered graft charges be filed against Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas for his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
Already detained separately for the murder of a journalist, Cagas is now facing malversation and bribery charges for allegedly diverting P16 million pesos of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2007 to fake nongovernmental organizations (NGO) controlled by Janet Lim Napoles. Napoles, separately in jail, is the alleged brains behind the pork barrel racket.
The Ombudsman said it found probable cause to indict Cagas for violating the country’s anticorruption laws. He is the second in the family to be linked to the scam, after his son, former Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV was charged in April for diverting P7.5 million of his PDAF share to a Napoles NGO in 2008.
The elder Cagas allegedly received P16 million as part of his PDAF share, which he then sought to be released to three foundations set up by Napoles, the Ombudsman said.
Records showed that Cagas wrote the Department of Budget and Management to request the release of his PDAF funds through the Technology Resource Center (TRC), the Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation Inc. (CARED) and the Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI).
The Ombudsman, however, found that the livelihood programs were all ghost projects.
Whistle-blowers in the pork barrel scam had testified that Cagas received P9.3 million in kickbacks coursed through former Energy Regulatory Commission chair Zenaida Ducut, a former Pampanga congresswoman who was allegedly Napoles’ contact in the House of Representatives.
The Ombudsman said PSDFI and CARED were found to be controlled by Napoles, and were directly chosen by Cagas without the benefit of a public bidding. TRC officials meanwhile failed to conduct a due diligence audit on the NGOs and suppliers to provide for the livelihood kits, it added.
The office also ordered the filing of graft and malversation charges against Napoles, Ducut, Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Francisco Figura, Belina Concepcion, Marivic Jover, Maurine Dimaranan, Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, Mylene Encarnacion, Evelyn De Leon and Eulogio Rodriguez.
Cagas surrendered to police two years ago after a warrant for his arrest was issued for the murder of news reporter Nestor Bedolido in June 2010. He won reelection in May while in jail.
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