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Enrile aides, 10 execs banned from gov’t

/ 12:50 AM February 28, 2017

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has banned from public service for life two aides of former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and 10 state firm executives over the misuse of his P345-million pork barrel funds from 2007 to 2009.

This was after Morales found administrative liability on the part of Enrile’s chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, deputy chief of staff Jose Antonio Evangelista II and other officials implicated in the scheme to divert the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) proceeds to ghost projects in connivance with dubious foundations.

The officials were found guilty of grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and dishonesty, the Ombudsman’s media bureau announced on Monday.

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Most of Reyes and Evangelista’s corespondents from three now-defunct government corporations were already slapped with sanctions in previous Ombudsman rulings, most recently in the case involving the PDAF of detained former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.

Liable officials include six from the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC): president Gondelina Amata, NLDC department manager Chita Jalandoni, NLDC director Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, cashier Ofelia Ordoñez, budget officer Filipina Rodriguez and project development assistant Sofia Cruz.

Also dismissed were three executives of Technology Resource Center—director Dennis Cunanan, budget officer Consuelo Lilian Espiritu and chief accountant Marivic Jover—as well as National Agribusiness Corp. paralegal Victor Roman Cacal.

Investigation showed that from 2004 to 2010, Enrile had continuously endorsed questionable nongovernment organizations (NGOs) linked to suspected pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles for his PDAF-funded projects.

Enrile, through Reyes, authorized Evangelista to deal with the parties and sign the documents on his behalf. The senator also tapped Nabcor, NLDC and TRC as the government entities that would implement his pet projects.

But field validation showed that the farm inputs, educational materials and financial grants supposedly bought with the PDAF proceeds were not delivered to the intended beneficiaries. The mayors and municipal agriculturists denied receiving any items from Enrile’s office.

The Ombudsman cited the Commission on Audit’s observations that the NGOs did not go through public bidding and did not have the track record to implement such large-scale projects.

Morales also pointed to the records of pork scam whistleblower Benhur Luy that showed Enrile allegedly received P172.83 million in kickbacks through Reyes and socialite Ruby Tuason.

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She also faulted the state firm employees for the hasty processing and release of the funds in a single day, which would not have allowed a careful examination of the transaction documents.

Criminal cases for plunder and graft are still pending at the Sandiganbayan against Enrile, Reyes and Napoles.

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TAGS: Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, Juan Ponce Enrile, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Philippine news updates, pork barrel scam
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