Aquino ally Tupas charged over P4.85-M pork scam
Former Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. has been charged in the Sandiganbayan for allegedly misusing P4.85 million in pork barrel funds on ghost projects in 2008.
Tupas, a close ally of former President Benigno Aquino III, was charged with two counts of graft and one count each of malversation and malversation through falsification.
The Liberal Party stalwart led the prosecution of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona in his impeachment trial over corruption allegations.
Ombudsman prosecutors accused Tupas of endorsing Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc. (KKAMFI) which they said was “unaccredited and unqualified” to undertake the livelihood projects funded by his Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations.
The lawmaker allegedly chose the group without the benefit of a public bidding.
Officials of the now-defunct state-owned National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), acting as the implementing agency of Tupas’ projects, later approved the payments and certified that all the supporting documents were submitted.
No farm implements
Tupas’ pork barrel funds were meant to buy hand tractors, water pumps and grafted fruit seedlings.
However, field investigators said the mayors of the municipalities of Ajuy, Batad, Estancia, Lemery, San Rafael and Sara in eastern Iloilo province denied receiving the farm implements.
Named as Tupas coaccused were KKAMFI project coordinator Marilou Antonio, Nabcor president Alan Javellana, administrative and finance head Rhodora Mendoza, general services unit head Romulo Relevo, and accountant Julie Villaralvo-Johnson.
Sought for comment, Tupas claimed he was “never notified by the Ombudsman” on the case and thus could not defend himself at the preliminary investigation stage.
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