Napoles, Ducut plead not guilty in Davao solon’s PDAF scam case
Accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and former Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chief Zenaida Ducut pleaded not guilty to the graft and malversation charges filed against them in connection with the alleged misuse of the pork barrel funds of former Davao Del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV.
During the scheduled arraignment at the Sandiganbayan Third Division on Tuesday, Napoles and Ducut pleaded not guilty to the charges read out against them for being the mastermind and agent, respectively, of the alleged scheme of pilfering kickbacks from lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Napoles refused interviews with the media after the arraignment.
Meanwhile, the court cancelled the arraignment of Cagas pending his motion for reconsideration of the court’s denial of his motion to quash his pork barrel scam charges.
The court earlier affirmed the validity of Cagas’ charges when it denied his motion to quash the information.
The court reset Cagas’ arraignment to July 12.
Cagas, Napoles and Ducut were charged with three counts of malversation for allegedly misappropriating, through abandonment and negligence, some P7.55 million in PDAF to the bogus nongovernment organizations Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI) and People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (POPDFI).
Cagas’ PDAF was intended for agricultural production packages in Davao Del Sur which turned out to be non-existent.
They were also charged with three counts of graft for causing injury to government when Cagas gave Napoles undue advantage in implementing the ghost projects.
Cagas was accused of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for acting with manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence in allowing his PDAF to be misused; as well as of violating the Revised Penal Code for malversation or misappropriation of public funds.
According to the prosecution, Cagas endorsed Napoles’ foundations to the Technology Resource Center (TRC) and National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) as a project partner to implement his PDAF without the benefit of a public bidding and even though the foundations were not qualified to implement his PDAF.
Napoles and her employees fabricated acceptance and delivery reports, disbursement reports, project proposals and other liquidation documents “to conceal the fictitious nature of the transaction, to the damage and prejudice of the Republic of the Philippines,” the prosecutors said.
Ducut was charged with being the agent between Napoles and the lawmakers and for “receiving kickbacks or share of the PDAF proceeds for and in behalf of Cagas IV,” the prosecution said.
For expediting the issuance of the special allotment release orders to release Cagas’ PDAF, budget undersecretary Mario Relampagos was also charged with his staff Rosario Nuñez, Marilou Bare and Lalaine Paule.
The TRC officials charged with Cagas were the director general Antonio Ortiz, deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, group manager Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, group manager Francisco Figura, budget officer Consuelo Espiritu and chief accountant Marivic Jover.
Meanwhile, the Nabcor officials charged were president Alan Javellana and his employees Victor Cacal, Maria Ninez Guañizo, Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson and Rhodora Mendoza.
Cunanan, Lacsamana, Espiritu, Figura, Jover, Ducut, Relampagos, Nuñez, Bare and Paule all pleaded not guilty during Tuesday’s arraignment.
Cagas faces separate charges of two counts of violations of Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law, one count of malversation, and another count of malversation through falsification of public documents, for the alleged misuse of P5.4 million PDAF to gain kickbacks, this time involving implementing agency Technology Resource Center with project partner Farmerbusiness Development Corp.
His father, former congressman and now governor Marc Douglas Cagas, also faces graft, malversation and direct bribery, this time involving his P16 million ghost pork barrel fund projects in 2007.
The elder Cagas was charged with direct bribery for allegedly receiving P9.3 million from Napoles for endorsing the bogus foundations Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation Inc. (CARED) and Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. without public bidding to implement his P16 million pork barrel project.
Napoles faces multiple charges of plunder, graft and malversation for allegedly conspiring with lawmakers to perpetrate the pork barrel scam. Although she has been acquitted in her serious illegal detention case for allegedly detaining whistleblower Benhur Luy, she remains detained as she is denied bail in her plunder cases involving former senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile. JE/rga
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