9 execs of state agencies dismissed over pork barrel

THE OFFICE of the Ombudsman (OMB) has dismissed nine officials of National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) and National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) in connection to the alleged anomalous use of P27.5 million pork barrel of Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has directed the Office of the Executive Secretary to implement the dismissal order against Victor Roman Cacal, Romulo Relevo, Gondelina Amata, Chita Jalandoni, Emmanuel Sevidal, Ofelia Ordoñez, Filipina Rodriguez, Sofia Cruz and Gregoria Buenaventura.

In a statement, Morales said the respondents were again found guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service arising from the fraudulent spending of the P27.5 million priority development assistance fund (PDAF) of Plaza in 2008-2009.

The Ombudsman also ordered the respondents’ perpetual disqualification for re-employment in the government service; and were meted the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

“Respondents’ dedication and outstanding service to the government should not be cited as a circumstance that deserves public gratitude considering that the level of service which is expected from every public servant is no less that exemplary service,” Morales said in a 54-page decision.

She added that a “public office is a public trust and public officers must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”

Based on the records of the OMB, the P27.5 million PDAF of Plaza was channeled through the NGOs Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka (MAMFI) and the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI) – both controlled by Janet Lim Napoles.

Plaza’s PDAF was used to fund “ghost projects” consisting of alleged livelihood and agricultural production kits.   The records added that the packages were not received by the intended beneficiaries.

Respondents facilitated the disbursement of millions of public funds using fabricated disbursements, certificates of acceptance, progress, inspection and delivery reports.

According to whistleblower Benhur Luy, Plaza received a total kickbacks of P42.1 million from his PDAF-funded projects from 2004 to 2010, with payoffs usually taking place at the JLN office in Ortigas or in Plaza’s house in Alabang Hills.

“The funds in question could not have been transferred to these NGOs if not for [their] certifications, approvals, and signatures found in the corresponding DVs and checks,” the decision read.

Meanwhile, the respondents are facing multiple charges for the PDAF scam. Together with Plaza, they stand trial before the Sandiganbayan for five counts of malversation and violation of Sec. 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).

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