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Masbate Gov. Seachon-Lanete, Napoles, et al. indicted for PDAF scam

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found probable cause to indict former Representatives Rizalina Seachon-Lanete (Masbate), Samuel Dangwa (Benguet), Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan Del Sur) and Constantino Jaraula (Cagayan de Oro) for misusing the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the total amount of P244.29 million.

Gov. Rizalina "Dayan" Seachon Lanete
Photo: Masbate Provincial Government
Likewise facing criminal indictments are Janet Lim Napoles, John Raymund De Asis, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, and DBM officials Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare.

Also impleaded as co-accused are officers/representatives of the Implementing Agencies (IAs): (i) Technology Resource Center (TRC) Director General Antonio Ortiz, Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan, Department Manager Francisco Figura and Chief Accountant Marivic Jover; (ii) National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR) President Alan Javellana, Paralegal Victor Roman Cacal, General Services Unit Head Romulo Relevo, Bookkeeper Maria Ninez Guañizo, Chief Accountant Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, and Director for Financial Management Services Rhodora Mendoza; (iii) National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) President Gondelina Amata, Division Chief Gregoria Buenaventura, Director Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Chief Financial Specialist Sofia Cruz and Department Manager Chita Jalandoni; and a number of officers/representatives of the non-government organizations (NGOs), namely: the Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation (CARED), Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI), Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc, (PSDFI) and the Social Development Program for Farmer Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI).

The cases stemmed from the separate complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Field Investigation Office (FIO).

In the Joint Resolution, Ombudsman Morales noted that “many of the names appearing on the lists as farmer-recipients were neither residents nor registered voters of the place where they were listed as beneficiaries, were fictitious or had jumbled surnames, while others were already deceased. In other words, these livelihood projects were ghost projects.”

The Commission on Audit (COA) observed that the IAs did not actually implement the PDAF-funded projects and merely released the funds to the NGOs after charging a management fee; direct releases made by the IAs to the NGOs contravened DBM regulations since they were not preceded by indorsements from the executive departments; the releases were made essentially at the behest of the sponsoring legislator; almost all the NGOs that received PDAF releases did not have track records in implementing government projects and that their addresses were dubious; the selection of NGOs and the procurement of goods did not undergo public bidding; and some suppliers denied having any transactions with the NGOs.

Ombudsman Morales also referred the cases to the Anti-Money Laundering Council for action on possible violations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Rep. Seachon-Lanete, et al.

Former Representative, now Masbate Governor, Seachon-Lanete, Lanete’s Chief of Staff Jose Sumalpong, Napoles and De Asis were charged with Plunder in connection with the anomalous utilization of Rep. Lanete’s P112.29 million PDAF from 2007 to 2009.

Moreover, Rep. Lanete, Sumalpong, Napoles, Relampagos, and several others face multiple counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

Lanete’s PDAF from 2007 to 2009 were issued by the DBM through 11 Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) and facilitated through the TRC, NLDC and NABCOR as IAs, and released to the CARED, MAMFI, PSDFI and SDPFFI.

During her term as Congressman, Lanete continuously endorsed the implementation of her PDAF-funded livelihood and agricultural projects to questionable NGOs associated with or controlled by Napoles.

The P112.29 million PDAF was anomalously used for livelihood projects, financial assistance to farmers, farm inputs and farm implements, skills training and distribution of livelihood kits in nail care, wellness, massage and candle- making. Several Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) were entered into between Lanete, TRC, NABCOR and the NGO-partners.

Field investigation conducted by Ombudsman investigators revealed that the P112.29 million PDAF was never used for the intended agricultural and livelihood projects as the documents submitted such as Disbursement Vouchers, Progress and Accomplishment Reports, Fund Utilization, Inspection and Delivery Reports, and Certificates of Acceptance were all fabricated.

The Joint Resolution stated that the “findings in the 2007-2009 COA Report jibe with the whistleblowers’ testimonies and are validated by the results of the FIO on-site field verification.”

Witnesses Benhur Luy, Marina Sula and Merlina Suñas claimed that the four foundations indorsed by Lanete were all dummies of Napoles. They described that the payoffs for the kickbacks usually took place at the JLN office in Ortigas with Sumalpong receiving the money. They added that Lanete’s commissions were sometimes deposited to her personal bank account in Metrobank Fairview branch.

The Joint Resolution stated that “Luy’s ledger indicates that from 2004 to 2010, Seachon-Lanete received total commissions or kickbacks in the amount of P108,405,000.00 which included P73,065,000.00 received from 2007 to 2009.”

Meanwhile, the charges in the Lanete case against Shyr Ann Montuya, Doreena Bazan, Susan Victorino, Wilberto De Guzman (deceased), Atty. Delfin Agcaoli Jr., Atty. Editha Talaboc and Atty. Antonio M. Santos were dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

Rep. Plaza, et al.

Former Representative Plaza faces indictment for five counts of Malversation, and five counts of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019. Included as co-accused in multiple counts of Malversation and violations of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 are Plaza’s Chief of Staff Jasper Kapunan, Napoles, Relampagos, Nuñez, Paule, Bare and 21 others.

Plaza also faces two counts of Direct Bribery, while Napoles was also charged with two counts of Corruption of Public Officials and five counts of violation of Section 4(b) of R.A. No. 3019.

The PDAF of Rep. Plaza for the years 2008 and 2009 amounting to P27.5 million covered by five SAROs engaged NABCOR and NLDC as IAs with MAMFI and SDPFFI as NGO-partners in supposedly implementing projects like agricultural production packages, livelihood packages, training, livelihood kits for food processing, hair dressing, and reflexology.

Upon field verification, the FIO determined that the livelihood and agricultural production kits and packages never reached the intended beneficiaries, for either there were no projects or the goods were never delivered completely.

The Joint Resolution stated that “the mayors and municipal agriculturists, who reportedly received the livelihood assistance, kits and packages never received anything from the Office of Plaza, the IA or any of the project partners,” as “none of the mayors, vice mayors or municipal agriculturists/technologists were even aware of the projects.”

Per Luy’s records, Plaza received total commissions, rebates, or kickbacks amounting to at least 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.

Meanwhile, the charges in the Plaza case as against Agcoili, Santos, Talaboc, Victorino, Lucila Lawas-Yutok, Gina Pascual, and Lucita Solomon were dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

Rep. Dangwa, et al.

Facing indictments for Malversation and six counts of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 are Rep. Dangwa, Dangwa’s Chiefs of Staff Erwin Dangwa and Carlos Lozada, Napoles, Relampagos, Nuñez, Bare and Paule,

Likewise indicted for Malversation and violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 are Ortiz, Cunanan, Jover, Noel Macha and several others

Rep. Dangwa also faces five counts of Direct Bribery, while Napoles also faces five counts of Corruption of Public Officials and six counts of violation of Section 4(b) of R.A. No. 3019.

From 2001 to 2010 Rep. Dangwa received P54 million as PDAF released by the DBM through seven SAROs coursed through SDPFFI, CARED and Peoples Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Inc. (POPDFI), with TRC, NLDC, and NABCOR as IAs.

Dangwa’s PDAF was anomalously used for financial assistance, grants, livelihood projects for jewelry-making, aromatic candle making, wellness and massage, farm inputs/implements and other livelihood packages.

Out of the P44 million funds released and transferred to the IAs and the Napoles NGOs,P11 million remain unliquidated by the TRC and CARED.

Similar to the cases of Lanete and Plaza, Dangwa’s PDAF was never used for the intended projects as shown by dubious and fabricated documents.

According to Luy, at least P26.7 million representing commissions, rebates or kickbacks were received directly by Dangwa or through his representatives Erwin Dangwa, Carlos Lozada and Evelyn De Leon. The whisteblowers testified that they saw Napoles hand over the money meant for Dangwa.

Meanwhile, the charges in the Dangwa case as against Montuya, Agcaoili, Victorino, Santos, Talaboc, Palama and Maureen Dimaranan were dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

Rep. Jaraula, et al.

Charges for three counts of Malversation and three counts of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 were slapped on former Representative Jaraula, Napoles, Relampagos, Ortiz, Cunanan and several others.

Jaraula was also indicted for three counts of Direct Bribery, while Napoles faces three counts of Corruption of Public Official and three counts of violation of Section 4(b) of R.A. No. 3019.

The Joint Resolution stated that Jaraula used his P50.5 million PDAF from 2004 to 2007 supposedly for financial assistance, technical assistance through video courses and printed materials, with TRC as IA and CARED as NGO-partner.

Luy stated that he recorded the rebates and commissions received by Jaraula amounting to P20.8 million, adding that there were occasions when he personally delivered the rebates to Jaraula.

The FIO submitted an Affidavit of Non-Operation dated 20 April 2007 executed by then CARED President Encarnacion stating that CARED had not conducted any business activity from the date of incorporation until 2007.

The COA special audit findings disclosed that the projects were “ghost” projects as they were never implemented in the lone district of Cagayan De Oro.

Ombudsman Morales noted that “certainly, these repeated, illegal transfers of public funds to Napoles’ control, purportedly for projects which did not exist, and just as repeated irregular disbursements thereof, present quantifiable pecuniary losses to the Government.”
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