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Ombudsman dismisses govt execs in P54M PDAF scam

MANILA, Philippines – Top executives from the state-owned National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC), Technology Resource Center (TRC), including the now defunct National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR), were dismissed from the service for their participation in the anomalous utilization of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of ex-Benguet Representative Samuel Dangwa amounting to P54 million.
In a 58-page Decision, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales imposed the penalty of dismissal for Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service against 12 government officials, namely: Gondelina Amata, Chita Jalandoni, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Ofelia Ordoñez, Filipina Rodriguez and Sofia Cruz, all from NLDC; TRC’s Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu and Belina Concepcion; and Victor Cacal and Romulo Relevo of NABCOR.
Records show that from 2007 to 2009, Dangwa received P54 million as PDAF coursed through NGOs connected with Janet Lim Napoles and NLDC, NABCOR and TRC as implementing agencies. The PDAF was intended for the acquisition of livelihood and agricultural assistance kits and packages.
In implementing the projects, Amata, processed, facilitated and approved the transactions and payments for the bogus projects.
Based on the Special Audit Report of the Commission on Audit, the agricultural and livelihood assistance kits/packages supposed to be delivered were non-existent or “ghost,”; the NGOs submitted fake or falsified supporting documents to support its liquidation; the Napoles- NGOs lacked the track record and capacity to implement the projects; no public bidding or accreditation process were undertaken; and to date, P11 million of Dangwa’s PDAF remains unliquidated.
“In spite of these deficiencies, respondent public officers Amata, Cunanan, Cacal, Relevo, Sevidal, Cruz, Jalandoni, Jover, Rodriguez, Ordoñez, Espiritu and Concepcion, with indecent haste, expedited the release of the PDAF disbursements to the NGOs affiliated with or controlled by Napoles. These foregoing acts of respondents constitute Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service,” the Decision stated.
The Office of the Ombudsman debunked their claim of good faith and presumption of regularity in the performance of their duties and ruled that “the act of certification or release of funds, approval and the affixation of signature in the disbursement vouchers, obligation slip and checks are neither mere formalities nor ministerial functions but involve the exercise of sound discretion that must be diligently performed as these are imbued with public interest.”
Amata, et al. were also meted out the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.