Ombudsman finds probable cause to charge QC solon over ‘pork’ mess
The Ombudsman has found probable cause to file graft and malversation charges against Quezon City Rep. Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo over the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The Ombudsman said Crisologo would be tried for two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019), two counts of Malversation and two counts of Malversation thru Falsification of Public Documents.
Task Force PDAF found out that in 2009, Crisologo asked the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the release of P8 million for the implementation of his PDAF-funded Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS) program with the DSWD as implementing agency.
The Ombudsman said the lawmaker requested the Kaloocan Assistance Council, Inc. (KACI) as non-government organization-partner for the CIDSS project.
The project consists of medical/hospitalization assistance, transportation, calamity, death, burial, educational expenses, small-scale livelihood, socio-cultural expenses, small-scale infrastructure assistance and values training.
However, upon checking the documents of the project, “investigators found that KACI submitted falsified receipts and that the beneficiaries of the financial assistance included coordinators and political supporters of Crisologo.”
It was also found out that KACI’s main supplier, Silver A Enterprises, was not a registered business entity as validated from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Quezon City Business Permit and Licensing Office.
The Ombudsman said it “obtained affidavits of alleged beneficiaries who denied receiving any burial or financial assistance and denied that the signatures appearing on the vouchers were theirs.”
Representatives from the National Children’s Hospital also attested that no free medical or dental mission was conducted in October 2009.
In its resolution, the Ombudsman stated that Crisologo failed to show that he exerted earnest efforts to ensure that KACI liquidated the tranches of the funds which “could only mean that he benefitted from the transaction or that he was grossly negligent.”
Ombudsman Chair Conchita-Carpio Morales said “[Crisologo] is after all, accountable for the funds because he has control, if not actual custody of the funds, as these funds cannot be released without his consent and directives.”
The resolution stated that “Crisologo treated his PDAF as if it were his own funds, dictating how it should be utilized and released. He not only identified the project, implementing agency and NGO, but also determined how much of his PDAF should go to the projects, or in this case, KACI.”
“The concerned DSWD officers did not even bother to conduct a due diligence audit on KACI and its suppliers. Instead, they accepted the sole representation of Congressman Crisologo and KACI to undertake the projects in contravention of existing procurement laws and regulations. Further, they processed the release of the PDAF to KACI on the sole basis of the indorsement letter and project design,” the Ombudsman said.
The anti-graft agency also ordered the filing of charges against Crisologo’s co-conspirators from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which include former Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Undersecretary Mateo Montaño, Lualhati Pablo, Leonila Hayahay, Vilma Cabrera, Pacita Sarino; and Cenon Mayor, President of KACI.
The Ombudsman found Montaño, Cabrera and Sarino guilty of Grave Misconduct, Serious Dishonesty and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.
The three were ordered dismissed from the service with the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and bar from taking civil service examinations. /idl
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