2 Aquino allies on pork list | Inquirer News

2 Aquino allies on pork list

34, including 7 ex-solons, tagged for prosecution
By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 01:51 AM November 30, 2013

Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon. RYAN LEAGOGO/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

Two high-ranking Aquino administration officials are in the second batch of 34 individuals that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has recommended for prosecution for alleged involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon and Zenaida Cruz-Ducut, the chair of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), were among those charged on Friday in the Office of the Ombudsman, along with Napoles and 26 others, including several former members of the House of Representatives.


Biazon is the first close ally of President Aquino to be dragged into the still continuing investigation into the theft between 2007 and 2009 of P10 billion worth of congressional pork barrel, officially known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which state investigators allege found their way back into senators’ and congressmen’s pockets through an elaborate kickback scheme allegedly orchestrated by Napoles involving bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and ghost projects.

Biazon is a former congressman who represented the lone district of Muntinlupa City from 2001 to 2010. He is the son of former Sen. Rodolfo Biazon Jr., the incumbent Muntinlupa congressman.


The customs chief on Friday said that while he has yet to see the documents on the complaint against him, he was willing and ready to face the charges.

Conspicuously absent

The other former congressmen included in the complaint were Salacnib Baterina, first district, Ilocos Sur; Arrel Olano, first district, Davao del Sur; Arthur Pingoy Jr., second district, South Cotabato; Rodolfo Valencia, first district, Oriental Mindoro; and Douglas Cagas and his son Marc Douglas IV, both from the first district of Davao del Sur.

They were charged with malversation, direct bribery, graft and corrupt practices.

Conspicuous by their absence in the second batch of pork respondents were another close Aquino ally Joel Villanueva, head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and former party-list representative for the Citizens Battle against Crime and Corruption (Cibac); Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez; and Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing.

Agent for 5 solons

Whistle-blower Benhur Luy had earlier furnished the Inquirer with documents showing that the three had provided part of the P580.85 million in pork funds that Napoles accessed from 2006 to 2009 using the Technology Resource Center (TRC) as the conduit—Villanueva, P4.3 million; Rodriguez, P3.5 million; and Bagatsing, P1 million.


Ducut is being charged as an “agent/representative” of Baterina, Biazon, Pingoy and the two Cagas. She was a House representative for the second district of Pampanga from 1995 to 2004. In 2008, Ducut was appointed ERC chair by then President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo, who now represents Pampanga’s second district.

“Most of the former congressmen received their kickbacks from Napoles through Ducut,” the NBI said.

Repeated calls and text messages to Ducut’s mobile phone Friday were not answered.

Celia Cuasay, the alleged agent of Valencia, was also charged with the same offenses.

Included in the complaint were 12 resident auditors at the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) and the TRC, two government agencies that were used as conduits in siphoning off the PDAF of the former congressmen. They were Annie Recabo, Rebecca Aquino, Bella Tesorero, Susan Guardian, Elizabeth Savela, Merle Valentin, Diana Casado, Aida Villania, Laarni Lyn Torres, Herminia Aquino, Jerry Calayan and Sylvia Montes.

The auditors “failed to fulfill their duty of guarding public funds because of their deliberate failure to properly audit the anomalous transactions involved in this case,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told a press briefing on Friday.

The others facing the same charges as the former lawmakers are former Nabcor president Alan Javellana; former TRC directors general Antonio Ortiz and Dennis Cunanan; Nabcor employees Victor Cacal, Romulo Relevo, Ma. Ninez Guanizo, Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson and Rhodora Mendoza; and TRC employees Francisco Figura and Marivic Jover.

The presidents of two Napoles-controlled NGOs, Mylene Francisco of Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation Inc. (Cared), and Evelyn de Leon of Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI) were also charged.

Biazon projects

According to the NBI, Biazon had allegedly endorsed the implementation of projects to be funded from his pork entitlement by one of the 10 NGOs set up by suspected mastermind Napoles.

Biazon allegedly used one of the Napoles NGOs, PDSFI, as a conduit in the implementation of livelihood projects chargeable to his PDAF worth P2.7 million in 2007.

Luy claimed that Biazon, or his alleged agent Ducut, collected commissions totaling P1.95 million in 2007.

According to the NBI, the Commission on Audit had found that the projects supposed to be funded from Biazon’s PDAF were not undertaken by the TRC but by PDSFI.

This was a “blatant disregard” of the provisions of the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 9184, or the Government Procurement Act, as well as the issuances of the Government Procurement Policy Board, the NBI said.

“[A]nomalies, such as but not limited to, ghost deliveries, short deliveries, overpricing and use of inferior materials, attended the implementation of the project. Worse, millions of taxpayer money were pocketed,” the NBI said.

“Biazon, who had control in the selection of his priority projects and programs, thus exceeded his authority in designating or endorsing the NGO when the same should be selected through competitive bidding, as mandated by government procurement laws,” it said.

In September 2011, the COA asked Biazon to confirm his signatures appearing on various documents submitted by PDSFI which implemented his projects as recorded by the TRC, the supposed implementing agency. Biazon, however, did not reply to the COA letter.

Huge commissions pocketed

Cunanan, Figura, Jover and Ortiz either certified that budgetary allotments were covered by documents and lawfully spent, or were signatories to the checks issued to the NGOs.

As for TRC resident auditors Calayan and Montes, the NBI said: “Dubious NGOs were utilized as implementers of the projects and, worse, ghost deliveries were employed, enabling the above-named persons to pocket huge commissions or rebates. Needless to say, all these anomalous transactions would not have succeeded had they performed their job.”

Biazon, Ducut, Napoles, Cunanan, Ortiz, Jover, De Leon, Calayan and Montes were all charged with malversation, direct bribery, three counts of graft and violation of the code of conduct of public officials and employees.

Napoles, De Leon and Ducut were additionally slapped with a charge of corruption of public officials and another graft charge.

P36.9 million in kickbacks

Based on the records submitted by NBI to the Ombudsman, the former lawmakers received a total of P36.920 million in kickbacks.

Ninety-one percent equivalent to P33.745 million of the total kickbacks some of it went to Ducut, based on the documents attached to the NBI complaint.

The elder Cagas allegedly received the highest kickback in the amount of P9.30 million, followed by Baterina, P7.5 million; Pingoy Jr., P7.05 million; Olano, P3.1 million; Valencia, P2.4 million; and Biazon, P1.9 million.

The NBI also said that the kickbacks of Pingoy Jr. were deposited in the Metrobank branch in San Fernando, Pampanga province, in an account belonging to Ducut.

Probe to be expanded

In an interview, lawyer Levi Baligod, the counsel for the whistle-blowers group, said that except for Marc Cagas, all the accused former and incumbent lawmakers could face bigger penalties once the investigation expands into their pork barrel transactions as members of the 13th Congress from 2004 to 2007, the preceding years not covered by the COA report (2007 to 2010) on which the investigation is based.

“We have uncovered new information that these lawmakers had dealings with Napoles as early as the 13th Congress,” said Baligod.

Baligod said that at least four employees of the implementing agencies that were involved in the Napoles scam have agreed to testify on what they know. Baligod said he would name them once they have executed their affidavits.

The lawyer said the probe would also expand into other pork barrel scammers that operate independently of Napoles who accounted for less than a quarter of the entire PDAF that went to fake NGOs, based on the COA report from 2007 to 2009. He expects to finalize the case against non-Napoles fake NGOs by early next year.

First set of cases

The first set of charges in the pork barrel scam was filed by the NBI and the Department of Justice last September against 38 people, including Napoles, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., former House Representatives Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, Edgar Valdez, Rodolfo Plaza, Samuel Dangwa and Constantino Jaraula, senior staff of the senators and congressmen, department heads and other lesser government officials.

On Oct. 3, former President Arroyo, three of her Cabinet secretaries and 20 others, Napoles included, were charged with plunder in connection with the alleged theft of P900 million from the Malampaya Fund meant for storm victims in 2009.

Baligod said that like the first set of cases, the second would be using as evidence the testimonies and documentary evidence submitted by the whistle-blowers, who are former employees of Napoles, led by principal witness Luy.


Customs chief, 33 others face raps on `pork’ misuse

Biazon: I’m willing and ready to face raps on pork scam

 First posted 12:25 am | Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

News that matters

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.