Ex-solon to go to trial for pork case
A criminal case against ex-legislator Salacnib Baterina for misuse of public funds through the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles has been elevated to the antigraft court Sandiganbayan for trial.
Seven criminal cases were filed by the Office of the Ombudsman at the antigraft court on Friday over the alleged misuse of Baterina’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations on “ghost” livelihood projects given to nonexistent groups allegedly created by Napoles.
The Ombudsman did not include then-budget secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. in the charges despite him originally being indicted for issuing budget release orders in spite of the absence of project profiles and endorsements from implementing agencies.
Andaya, who is now a Camarines Sur representative, was excluded after the Ombudsman gave weight to his argument that the profiles and endorsements were not necessary since they were included in the appropriation law’s PDAF menu.
Baterina, former Ilocos Sur congressman, was charged with three counts each of malversation and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and one count of direct bribery.
Napoles’ alleged “agent,” former Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chair Zenaida Cruz Ducut, was charged with one count each of graft, malversation and direct bribery.
Six officials of the defunct Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (former director-general Antonio Ortiz, former deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, group managers Francisco Figura and Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, chief accountant Marivic Jover and internal auditor Maurine Dimaranan) were charged with three counts each of graft and malversation.
Four from the Department of Budget and Management (Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, Budget and Management Specialist Rosario Nuñez, administrative assistants Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare) were also charged with one count each of graft and malversation.
Napoles faces three counts each of graft and malversation. Godofredo Roque, Carlos Soriano and France Mercado were each charged with two counts of graft and malversation, while Napoles aide Evelyn de Leon was slapped with one count each of the same offenses.
The cases for graft, malversation and direct bribery arose from Baterina’s endorsement of Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI), a Napoles group, for a livelihood project worth P9.6 million.
Prosecutors claimed that Baterina and former ERC chair Ducut “received commissions and kickbacks” from Napoles in exchange for endorsing Napoles’ group for the project.
The alleged bribe amounted to P3 million, nearly a third of the value of the projects involving PSDFI.
Two other sets of graft and malversation cases were filed for the release of P24.3 million on two occasions to Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation Inc. (KMFI), another Napoles group.
KMFI was allegedly handpicked by Baterina under similarly anomalous circumstances.