Ex-Caloocan solon indicted for pork barrel scam
Former Caloocan Rep. Mari Mitzi Cajayon was indicted by the Office of the Ombudsman for graft and malversation charges for the alleged misuse of her P10 million pork barrel funds in 2009.
In a statement on Thursday, the Office of the Ombudsman said it has found probable cause to indict Cajayon with two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, one count of Malversation, and one count of Malversation thru Falsification of Public Documents.
Cajayon is now executive director of the Council for the Welfare of Children, which is an attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The Ombudsman also ordered the filing of charges against Cajayon’s co-conspirators from DSWD and Cenon Mayor of Kaloocan Assistance Council, Inc. (KACI): former DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Undersecretary Mateo Montaño, Assistant Secretary Vilma Cabrera, Chief Accountant Leonila Hayahay and Assistant Director Pacita Sarino.
The Ombudsman’s field investigation showed that the P10 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), intended for the Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS) program, were spent on ghost projects.
The supposed beneficiaries also denied receiving any financial or burial assistance from the congresswoman.
The P10 million fund was broken down as follows: P2 million as funeral assistance; P1.93 million as educational assistance; P2 million as financial assistance; P250,000 for tents; P250,000 for medical and dental assistance; P250,000 for anti-rabies program; P250,000 fumigation; P570,000 for de-clogging of drainage; P250,000 for sports gear, trophies and medals; and P250,000 for fiesta, sports activities, concerts, dance and singing contests.
The remaining balance was used by KACI for its maintenance, supervisory and management fees.
The Ombudsman said Cajayon endorsed her PDAF to KACI’s failure to liquidate projects from 2006 to 2007.
The Commission on Audit (COA) in 2010 also issued a Notice of Suspension on Cajayon’s PDAF, because there were no procurement documents shown to support the acquisition of tents, medicines, trophies and balls.
The COA said the NGO-selection process was not compliant with COA Circular No. 2007-001 and Resolution No. 12-2007 of the Government Procurement Policy Board.
The Ombudsman’s verification of the invoices and receipts from the main supplier, Silver “A” enterprises also showed that these were falsified.
A check with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Quezon City government also showed Silver A “is not registered and has no record in said agencies.”
In her resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said, “Cajayon failed to show that she has exerted earnest effort to ensure that KACI liquidated the second tranches of the subject funds and her failure to do so could only mean that she benefitted from the transaction, or that she was grossly negligent in her contractual obligation, making her liable for the offenses.
“Cajayon, is after all, accountable for the funds, because she has control, if not actual custody, of the funds, as these funds cannot be released without her prior consent and directives,” Morales added.
The Ombudsman also dismissed Montaño, Cabrera and Sarino after they were found guilty of Grave Misconduct, Serious Dishonesty and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.
They were meted the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits and a bar from taking the civil service examination.
In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to one year’s salary.
“(T)he concerned DSWD officers did not even bother to conduct a due diligence audit on KACI and its suppliers. Instead, they accepted the sole representation of Cajayon and KACI to undertake the projects in contravention of existing procurement laws and regulations. Further, they processed the release of Cajayon’s PDAF to KACI on the sole basis of the endorsement letter and project design,” the Ombudsman said. /je