Revilla’s aide, 12 sacked over pork scam
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has meted out a lifetime ban from joining government service to 13 officials in connection with the misuse of former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.’s pork barrel funds amounting to P517 million.
This marks a finding of administrative liability against the government officials implicated in the scheme to divert Revilla’s Priority Development Assistance Fund proceeds to ghost projects in partnership with dubious nongovernment organizations.
Morales ordered the dismissal of Revilla’s former chief of staff Richard Cambe and officials from three now-defunct government corporations, after finding them guilty of grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and dishonesty.
Notably, most of Cambe’s fellow respondents have already been ordered dismissed in previous Ombudsman rulings involving the PDAF of other lawmakers in the multibillion-peso scheme.
The dismissed officials include: director-general Dennis Cunanan, chief accountant Marivic Jover and budget officer Consuelo Lilian Espiritu from the Technology Resource Center; president Gondelina Amata, directors Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal and Chita Jalandoni, project development officer Sofia Cruz, chief budget specialist Ofelia Ordoñez, asset management division chief Gregoria Buenaventura and officer Evelyn Sucgang from the National Livelihood Development Corp.; and general services supervisor Victor Roman Cacal and administrative and finance head Rhodora Mendoza from the National Agribusiness Corp.
In case of separation from government service, the dismissal penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to one year’s salary.
Investigation showed that Revilla authorized Cambe to deal with his PDAF projects and sign the necessary documents on his behalf. The actor-politician also named TRC, NLDC and Nabcor to be the implementing agencies, in partnership with five NGOs linked to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Although the allocations were purportedly meant for livelihood projects, fertilizers and various farm tools and implements, Ombudsman field validation showed that no deliveries were actually made to the beneficiaries.
The Ombudsman cited the Commission on Audit’s observation that the selection of NGO partners did not go through public bidding. Also cited were the NGOs’ lack of track record and the lack of information on the beneficiaries’ whereabouts.
The Ombudsman also cited the whistle-blowers’ testimony that Revilla received kickbacks amounting to P224.5 million.
Morales faulted the state firms’ officials for failing to carefully examine the transaction documents.