Ombudsman axes 3 DOST officials over Davao’s solons’ PDAF misuse
THE OFFICE of the Ombudsman has dismissed from the service three officials of the Technology Resource Center (TRC), an agency attached to the Department of Science and Technology, over the alleged misuse of the multi-billion-peso pork barrel of former Rep. Douglas Cagas (now governor of Davao del Sur) and his successor-son ex-congressman Marc Douglas Cagas IV.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Molares ordered the dismissal of Belina Concepcion, Marivic Jover and Consuelo Lilian Espiritu after they were found guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Aside from the dismissal, they were also meted the accessory penalties of cancellation of civil service eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification from holding public service.

In the event that dismissal can no longer be enforced due to severance from office, the same shall be converted into a fine equivalent to their one-year salary, the Ombudsman said. The TRC, the DOST corporate arm which offers training courses to aspiring entrepreneurs, closed shop in 2014, and it was not certain if the three respondents were absorbed by its mother agency.

The ruling arose from their alleged participation in the misuse of the Cagases’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) proceeds totaling P22 million. Both legislators allegedly “used TRC as conduit of their scheme,” the Ombudsman said.

Based on the Ombudsman finding, the elder Cagas received P16 million as part of his PDAF allocation.

The graft investigating agency said Cagas allegedly channeled illegally the funds to the Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation, Inc. (CARED) and the Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc. (PSDFI), both non-government organizations controlled by co-accused Janet Lim-Napoles.

The younger Cagas, meanwhile, misappropriated his P6M PDAF allocation in 2008 through the Farmerbusiness Development Corporation (FDC), the Ombdusman said.

Both legislators used the TRC as conduit of their scheme, allegedly receiving kickbacks amounting to P5.5 million and P9.3 million, respectively, through Zenaida Ducut.

The TRC executives were formally charged in March at the Sandiganbayan as the co-accused of Napoles, Ducut and the Cagases in the criminal cases for graft, malversation, direct bribery and corruption of public officials.

Davao del Sur became a lone district after its southern half was turned into the province of Davao Occidental. The governor’s wife, Mercedes, now represents the lone district.