Ex-solon faces graft raps for P65M ghost pork projects
A former Misamis Occidental representative is now facing graft and malversation charges in the Sandiganbayan for using P65 million of her Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) in what turned out to be “ghost” projects from 2007 to 2009.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered the filing of 18 counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, 11 counts of Malversation through Falsification of Public Documents and seven counts of Malversation of Public Funds against former Misamis Occidental Representative Marina Clarete.
In a statement on Friday, the Office of the Ombudsman said from 2007 to 2009, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued seven special allotment release orders totaling P65 million as part of Clarete’s PDAF.
Clarete claimed that the funds were used for the distribution of livelihood technology kits and trainings, water pumps, hand tractors, calamansi, rambutan and mango seedlings, with the National Agribusiness Corporation and the National Livelihood Development Corporation and Technology Resource Center as implementing agencies; and the Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc., Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. and Aaron Foundation Philippines Inc. as non-government organization partners.
But upon validation, the supposed beneficiaries denied having received any of the items. Mayors or municipal agriculturalists in the first district were not even aware of the projects, the Office of the Ombudsman said.
Investigation found that to liquidate the funds, documents had been fabricated, such as partial and final physical reports, certificates of acceptance, auditor’s reports, financial status reports, summaries of training expenses, liquidation reports, inspections reports, purchase orders, distribution summaries, delivery receipts, official receipts, sales invoices and list of beneficiaries and participants.
“Based on the evidence presented, the widespread misuse of the PDAF allocated to Clarete was coursed through a complex scheme basically involving projects supposedly funded by the PDAF but which turned out to be inexistent or ‘ghost,’” Morales said in her resolution.
Also charged as co-accused are former Department of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Alan Javellana, Rhodora Mendoza, Encarnita Christina Munsod, Marilou Antonio, Marilou Ferrer, Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Romulo Relevo, Allen Calma, Victor Roman Cacal, Maria Ninez Guañizo, Flerida Alberto, Maria Paz Vega, Gondolina Amata, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Ofelia Ordoñez, Sofia Cruz, Evelyn Sucgang, Gregoria Buenaventura, Rodrigo Doria, Godofredo Roque, Chita Jalandoni, Filipina Rodriguez, Ma. Neriza Gador, Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Francisco Figura, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, Pio Ronquillo and Marivic Jover.
Clarete, in her defense, claimed that her signatures in the documents were forged and that the Commission on Audit (COA) had not issued any notice of disallowance for the fund usage, although Morales in her resolution countered that the Office of the Ombudsman may pursue the investigation without waiting for the COA decision “if it determines that such decision is not indispensable to the investigation and prosecution of the case.” RAM/rga
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