Former Congressman Asistio charged over involvement in P8M PDAF scam
26 September 2017
The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to charge former Congressman Luis Asistio for his involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. Asistio, who served as congressman of the 2nd district of Caloocan from 2004 to 2010, will face trial for four counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019), two counts Malversation and two counts of Malversation thru Falsification of Public Documents. Also charged were former officials from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Esperanza Cabral, Mateo Montaño, Leonila Hayahay; and Cenon Mayor of the Kaloocan Assistance Council, Inc. (KACI).
The graft and malversation charges represent the disbursement vouchers approved by Asistio for inexistent projects. Records showed that during his term, Asistio continuously endorsed the implementation of his PDAF-funded Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS) programs to KACI. From 2006 to 2007, a total of P15million covered by two Special Allotment Release Orders was taken from his PDAF and released to the DSWD as implementing agency. Of the P15m, P8million was transferred to KACI through the DSWD. In two Memoranda of Agreement dated 01 June 2006 and 27 December 2006, Asistio, Cabral and Mayor agreed to transfer P8million to KACI for the implementation of the CIDSS program in the 2nd district of Caloocan. The funds were allegedly used to procure various medical supplies and soldering parts, meals, chemicals for fumigation, diesel, baby oil, alcohol bottles, tarpaulins, t-shirts and kit bags.
Upon investigation, the Ombudsman found that KACI’s incorporators and officers are the congressman’s former political coordinators, volunteers and supporters and that its office was located on the same property as Asistio’s office. On the other hand, the Commission on Audit (COA) found that the selection of the NGO was not compliant with COA Circular No. 2007-001 and Government Procurement Policy Board Resolution No. 12-2007; the suppliers and reported beneficiaries were unknown or cannot be located at their given addresses; and the NGO submitted questionable documents or failed to liquidate or fully document the utilization of funds. The Ombudsman also discovered that the alleged supplier, Silver A Enterprises, is a bogus entity with no records from the local government, Department of Trade and Industry, or with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
No counter-affidavit was submitted by Asistio during the preliminary investigation.
According the Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, “the misappropriation of the PDAF allotted to Asistio was coursed through a scheme he conceived involving various projects and forms of assistance in his district supposed to have funded by his PDAF, which projects turned out to be non-existent or ghost. The funds were instead diverted to his possession and control, through KACI, an NGO that is not financially capable to implement the livelihood projects.”
The Ombudsman citing the participation of the respondents, stated that “Asistio himself selected KACI as his preferred NGO to implement the projects funded by his PDAF. He signed the indorsement letter to DSWD relating to the PDAF disbursements as well as the project designs and for signing the MOAs with DSWD and KACI. On the other hand, Cabral and her staff participated in the preparation and execution of the fund release documents and MOA governing the implementation of the projects.
“Worth noting is the unusual accommodation in the examination, processing and approval by the concerned DSWD officers of the PDAF releases to KACI. The DSWD officers did not even bother to conduct a due diligence audit on KACI and its suppliers. Instead, they accepted the sole representation of Congressman Asistio and KACI to undertake the projects in contravention of existing procurement laws and regulations. Further, they processed the release of Congressman Asistio’s PDAF to KACI on the sole basis of the indorsement letter and project design,” Ombudsman Morales added.
All the liquidation documents, accomplishment reports, certifications, sales invoices, summary expenses were treated as “spurious considering that they purportedly show project implementation where there was none and the participation of persons who did not participate in said projects.”
In the related administrative case, Montaño was found guilty of Grave Misconduct, Serious Dishonesty and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and was ordered dismissed from the service. He was also meted the accessory penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility and bar from taking the civil service examination. In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to Montaño’s salary for one year. ###