Ducut continued to get commissions, say documents
MANILA, Philippines—Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chair Zenaida Ducut continued to receive commissions from alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles three months after she was appointed to the ERC, according to documents obtained by the Inquirer.
The documents showed that Ducut, who was appointed ERC chair in July 2008 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (now a Pampanga representative in the House), received a commission of P250,000 for a P5-million pork barrel project of La Union 1st District Rep. Victor Ortega that year.
Ducut, also tagged by pork scam witnesses as an agent for some lawmakers, will be included in the third batch of charges in the P10-billion pork barrel racket that the Department of Justice will file in the Office of the Ombudsman next week, according to a source who has seen the witnesses’ affidavits.
The whistle-blowers said Ducut also served as an agent of Ortega.
Another document submitted by the whistle-blowers showed that Ducut also received P180,000 from Napoles to finance her media campaign after being appointed ERC chief.
According to the witness’ sworn statements, Ducut received a 5-percent “commission” from the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) projects she handled for Napoles.
Ducut, according to another source, received her commissions from Napoles in cash or through bank transfers.
The source provided the Inquirer a copy of two bank transfer requests that indicated Ducut’s account number at the Metrobank branch in San Fernando town, Pampanga province.
The requests, made on April 23 and 30, 2008, and totaled P1.5 million, were addressed to Grace Chan, branch manager of Metrobank on T. Pinpin Street, San Fernando, by Evelyn de Leon and John Lim, presidents of bogus nongovernment organizations owned by Napoles, the source said.
De Leon is the head of the Philippine Social Development Foundation and Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc.
Ducut held the seat of the 2nd District of Pampanga in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2004.
In 2008, prior to her appointment as ERC chair, Ducut served as undersecretary in the Office of the Presidential Legal Counsel.
In a previous testimony submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman, whistle-blowers Benhur Luy and Marina Sula stated that Ducut is a friend of Napoles who acted as her agent to win projects financed with government funds.
“I know her as a former congresswoman from the 2nd District of Pampanga and she is now the chair of ERC,” Luy said in an affidavit submitted to National Bureau of Investigation agent Allan Pascual on Nov. 26
In a separate affidavit, Sula said Ducut was a regular guest in Napoles’ office and parties.
In that affidavit submitted to the NBI on Sept. 12 (for the first case in the pork barrel scam), Sula said: “I always see her during the anniversary of JLN Corp., death anniversary of the mother of Madam Janet Napoles and at our office at Discovery [Suites] every time Madam Janet has business to discuss with her.”
Regular Napoles visitor
In his testimony, Luy claimed that Ducut regularly visited Napoles’ 25th-floor office at Discovery Suites in Pasig City to get her commission and the kickbacks of six lawmakers who had been charged by the NBI in the Office of the Ombudsman earlier.
Those charged were former Representatives Rozzano Rufino Biazon (Muntinlupa), Arthur Y. Pingoy Jr. (South Cotabato), Salacnib Baterina (Ilocos Sur), Douglas R. Cagas (Davao del Sur), Marc Douglas C. Cagas IV (Davao del Sur) and Arrel Olaño (Davao del Norte).
Luy said that in some instances, Napoles would deposit Ducut’s commission in Ducut’s personal bank account through fund transfer.
Luy was then president of the Napoles NGO Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc., which also used Ducut as a go-between to get pork barrel projects from lawmakers.
“I, together with Evelyn de Leon, Madam Janet or Ronald John Lim (Napoles’ nephew) prepared the money, which we placed in a box, a paper bag or a giveaway bag of JLN Corp.,” Luy said.
How they operated
De Leon was president of another Napoles NGO, Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc., and one of the 34 accused in the second pork barrel scam case that covered PDAF transactions from 2007 to 2009.
Luy said the seventh lawmaker in the malversation case, Rep. Rodolfo Valencia (Oriental Mindoro), used another agent, Celia Cuasay, who also got a 5-percent commission.
Asked how he validated the flow of the kickbacks, Luy said Ducut would bring vouchers to the JLN office together with the memorandums of agreement and endorsement letters signed by the six former lawmakers.
Luy said the agreements and the endorsement letters were drafted at the JLN office and taken by Ducut to the lawmakers and the heads of the implementing agencies for signatures.
Luy said the vouchers (used as proof of receipt of the kickbacks) were kept at the JLN office, while copies of the agreements and endorsement letters could be obtained from the implementing agencies—National Agribusines Corp. (Nabcor) and Technology Resource Center (TRC)—used by the six former lawmakers.
“Most of the former congressmen received their kickbacks from Napoles through Ducut,” Luy said.
According to the NBI malversation and bribery information filed in the Office of the Ombudsman, Ducut received P3.2 million in commissions for brokering P64.09 million in PDAF projects from Biazon (P2.7 million), Pingoy (P20.91 million), Baterina (P9.6 million), Cagas (P15.36 million), Cagas IV (P7.55 million) and Olaño (P7.97 million) for Napoles.