2 DAR execs linked to Malampaya fund scam already dismissed – Mariano
MANILA — Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano readily complied with the Ombudsman’s order to dismiss two Department of Agrarian (DAR) officials allegedly involved in the misuse of P900 million in Malampaya funds in 2009.
Mariano said he dismissed Presidential Agrarian Reform Council officer-in-charge director Teresita Panlilio and chief administrative officer Ronald Venancio last December 27 to comply with the Ombudsman’s decision dated December 19.
He said the two would not receive their retirement benefits and were barred from holding public office again as part of the punishment.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the immediate dismissal of Panlilio and Venancio for grave misconduct for their participation in diverting the Malampaya funds to questionable nongovernment organizations that allegedly created ghost projects.
The two DAR officials were among 25 persons led by former budget secretary and now Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr.; former agrarian reform secretary and now mayor of Masiu, Lanao del Sur province Nasser Pangandaman; and pork barrel scam state witness Ruby Tuason, who were charged with two counts of plunder and multiple graft and malversation charges for the Malampaya fund scam.
The Malampaya fund was created in 2002 to finance the government’s energy resource exploration and extraction projects off the waters of Palawan.
In 2009, then President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo authorized the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to use the funds for typhoon relief and rehabilitation efforts.
The Ombudsman cleared Arroyo and and her executive secretary Eduardo Ermita of any liability in the case.
According to the Ombudsman, DAR asked the DBM to release P900 million from the Malampaya fund purportedly upon the request of several mayors, to assist farmer-agrarian reform beneficiaries who were victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.
The Commission on Audit, however, found later that the requests for financial assistance were not submitted by the mayors but by bogus NGOs linked to Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of a long-running scam that diverted hundreds of millions of pesos of pork barrel of several lawmakers in exchange for kickbacks.
The Ombudsman found that the respondents just made up the list of alleged farmer-beneficiaries.
The Ombudsman said the “funds in question could not have been transferred to Napoles’ NGOs without their certifications, signatures and approvals in the obligation slips and checks.” SFM
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