Ombudsman finds basis for P8-M ‘pork’ raps vs ex-Caloocan solon, ex-DSWD chief
The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to pursue various charges against former Caloocan City 2nd Dist. Rep. Luis Asistio and former Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral over the misuse of his P8-million pork barrel funds on ghost projects.
The case arose from the alleged diversion of Asistio’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to a nongovernment organization controlled by his former political coordinators and supporters.
Asistio and Cabral thus face possible charges for four counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, two counts of malversation, and two counts of the complex crime of malversation through falsification.
Fellow respondents were Undersecretary Mateo Montaño and chief accountant Leonila Hayahay of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, as well as Cenon Mayor of Kalookan Assistance Council, Inc. (KACI)
The PDAF-funded programs were implemented under the DSWD’s Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS) project. Records showed Asistio “continuously endorsed” KACI as the NGO-partner for his pet CIDSS programs.
Asistio, Cabral and Mayor entered into two memoranda of agreement to transfer the funds to buy meals, various medical supplies, fumigation chemicals, soldering parts, diesel, baby oil, alcohol, tarpaulins, T-shirts, and kit bags.
But, the Ombudsman’s probe revealed the apparent conflict of interest—besides the identity of the KACI incorporators, investigators also found its office was located in the same property as Asistio’s.
Meanwhile, the suppliers and reported beneficiaries were either unknown or could not be located at their given addresses. Ombudsman investigators discovered that one supplier, Silver A Enterprises, had no records with the local government, the Department of Trade and Industry, or the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
It turned out KACI submitted questionable documents and failed to liquidate or fully document the use of the funds, the Ombudsman said.
KACI’s selection was also deemed non-compliant with the Commission on Audit Circular No. 2007-001 and Government Procurement Policy Board Resolution No. 12-2007.
Asistio did not submit a counter-affidavit to rebut the field investigators’ findings.
The Ombudsman said the funds must have been “diverted to his possession and control, through KACI, an NGO that is not financially capable to implement the livelihood projects.”
Cabral, Montaño and Hayahay, meanwhile, were faulted for striking the deal with KACI and processing the release of Asistio’s funds without conducting a due diligence audit on the NGO and its suppliers.
““Worth noting is the unusual accommodation in the examination, processing and approval by the concerned DSWD officers of the PDAF releases to KACI,” the Ombudsman said.
“They accepted the sole representation of Congressman Asistio and KACI to undertake the projects in contravention of existing procurement laws and regulations,” she added.
Meanwhile, in the related administrative case, the Ombudsman ordered Montaño’s dismissal from government service after finding him guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. In case of separation from office, the sanction would be converted to a fine equivalent to one year’s salary.
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