Friday, December 4, 2015

12 gov`t execs dismissed from service over ‘pork’

See - 12 gov`t execs dismissed from service over ‘pork’

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Twelve officials and employees of three government agencies used in the pork barrel scam, among them resigned technology center head Dennis Cunanan, were dismissed yesterday from government service by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Apart from Cunanan, those sacked were Gondelina Amata, Chita Jalandoni, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Ofelia Ordoñez, Filipina Rodriguez and Sofia Cruz of the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC); Marivic Jover, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu and Belina Concepcion of the Technology Resource Center (TRC); Victor Cacal and Romulo Relevo of the now defunct National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR).

The Office of the Ombudsman said their dismissal from the service stemmed from their role in the anomalous spending of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of former Benguet congressman Samuel Dangwa amounting to P54 million."

All the respondents were also meted the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from reemployment in government service.

In a 58-page decision, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the 12 officials and employees were found guilty of the administrative offenses of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Case records showed that from 2007 to 2009, Dangwa received P54 million worth of PDAF coursed through non-government organizations (NGOs) connected with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and NLDC, NABCOR and TRC as implementing agencies.

The pork barrel funds were intended for the acquisition of so-called livelihood and agricultural assistance kits and packages.

In implementing the projects, the government officials allegedly processed, facilitated and approved the transactions and payments for the bogus projects.

Based on the Special Audit Report of the Commission on Audit (COA), the agricultural and livelihood assistance kits/packages supposed to be delivered were nonexistent.

The NGOs also submitted fake or falsified supporting documents to support liquidation of funds while also lacking the track record and capacity to implement the projects.

The ombudsman said no public biddings or accreditation processes 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 anti-graft agency said.

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.”

Meanwhile, the COA also directed the provincial government of Aurora to return more than P10.9 million of unused pork barrel funds and explain why it failed to do so a year after the Supreme Court declared the PDAF unconstitutional.

In a 2014 report released recently, state auditors said the provincial treasurer and accountant should “explain satisfactorily in writing their non-compliance” with the SC’s November 2013 ruling.

The COA report noted that based on the SC decision, “the disbursement/release of the remaining PDAF funds allocated for the year 2013 are hereby enjoined.”

Records showed that Aurora had P10,934,258.71 in unused PDAF, including P7 million that pertains to the unutilized balances of other PDAF accounts, which remained in the Trust Fund books as of Dec. 31, 2014 despite completion of the funded projects.

State auditors said the provincial treasurer should immediately remit the unutilized pork barrel funds to the Bureau of Treasury in compliance with the SC decision. - With Edith Regalado

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