Ducut, ex-lawmaker Pingoy plead not guilty to pork scam raps
Former South Cotabato Rep. Arthur Pingoy Jr. and his alleged agent Zenaida Ducut pleaded not guilty to malversation, graft and direct bribery charges over their alleged involvement in the Janet Lim-Napoles pork barrel scam.
Pingoy and Ducut appeared before the Sandiganbayan Second Division on Tuesday to undergo arraignment for their pork barrel scam charges.
Napoles’ employee Evelyn De Leon also entered her not guilty plea.
The court set the preliminary marking of evidence on September 23, October 3, 10, 20, and 28 and November 4, 11, 18 and 25.
Meanwhile, the pre-trial stage, when both defense and prosecution agree on the set of evidence and witnesses for trial proper, is scheduled on Jan. 5, 2017.
The court deferred the arraignment of Napoles and 15 other respondents in the case due to their pending motions before the court.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor filed four counts of graft and four counts of malversation against Pingoy for coursing some P20.9 million of his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to the bogus foundations of accused pork barrel scam mastermind Napoles. His pork barrel funds allegedly went to ghost projects for kickbacks.
He was accused of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as well as of committing malversation as defined under the Revised Penal Code.
Ducut, a former Energy Regulatory Commission head and former Pampanga representative, was also charged with malversation and graft for allegedly serving as Pingoy’s agent in receiving kickbacks from Napoles.
Ducut was said to have toured Napoles in the House of Representatives, according to whistleblower Merlina Suñas.
Ducut was charged for “receiving kickbacks or share of the PDAF proceeds for and in behalf of Pingoy,” the prosecution said.
According to the malversation charge, Pingoy was accused of misappropriating through abandonment or negligence his pork barrel funds to Napoles’ spurious foundations Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation (SDPFFI) and Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI) from 2007 to 2009.
He was also charged with graft for causing undue injury to government in coursing his pork barrel funds to the spurious foundations through evident bad faith, manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence.
Pingoy through his alleged agent Ducut was likewise charged with two counts of direct bribery for allegedly receiving from Napoles the following bribes; P6.755 million in exchange for his endorsement of Napoles’ nongovernment organization PSDFI to receive P19 million of his PDAF in 2007; and P300,000 in exchange for his endorsement of Napoles’ nongovernment organization SDPFFI to receive his P3 million pork barrel fund in 2008.
Ducut was also charged with two counts of direct bribery for being the alleged agent.
The prosecutors said Pingoy endorsed the bogus foundations to the implementing agencies Technology Resource Center (TRC) and National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), which under the law were supposed to implement the project.
Pingoy also endorsed the foundations even though these were not accredited or qualified to implement the projects and even though there was no public bidding conducted.
The PDAF-funded livelihood projects for the second district of South Cotabato turned out to be fictitious or non-existent, the prosecution said.
Also charged with Pingoy were Napoles and her employees Evelyn De Leon, Noel Macha, John Raymund De Asis, John Bernardo, for preparing the acceptance and delivery reports, disbursement reports, project proposal, and other liquidation documents to “conceal the fictitious nature of the transaction,” the prosecution said.
The prosecution also charged the former officials of TRC for failing to verify the qualifications of the bogus foundations – director general Antonio Ortiz, deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, group manager Francisco Figura, and chief accountant Marivic Jover.
The prosecution also charged the following former Nabcor officials – president Alan Javellana, former vice president of the administrative and finance department Rhodora Mendoza, former accounting services division officer in charge Maria Ninez Guanizo, and former paralegal Victor Cacal.
For expediting the issuance of the special allotment release orders to release Pingoy’s PDAF, budget undersecretary Mario Relampagos was also charged with his staff Rosario Nuñez, Marilou Bare, and Lalaine Paule.
Pingoy is the last to be charged from the second batch of lawmakers sued before the Ombudsman for their alleged involvement in the scheme of diverting their PDAF to ghost projects for kickbacks.
The pork charges were already filed before the Sandiganbayan against former Customs commissioner and Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, former Davao del Norte Rep. Arrel Olaño, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rodolfo Valencia and former Davao Del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV.
The Sandiganbayan is hearing the plunder cases over the pork barrel scam of Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada, and former Apec party-list representative Edgar Valdez and dismissed Masbate governor Rizalina Seachon Lanete; as well as the malversation cases against former Cagayan de Oro representative Constantino Jaraula, former Benguet representative Samuel Dangwa, and former Agusan Del Sur representative Rodolfo Plaza.
Revilla and Estrada are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center after their bail petitions were denied, while the elderly Enrile was allowed by the Supreme Court to post bail from hospital detention due to humanitarian considerations.
Meanwhile, Valdez and Lanete were allowed to post bail from their detention at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig after the prosecution failed to prove that they received millions of kickbacks from Napoles.
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