Ombudsman issues another dismissal order for Plaza PDAF scam
29 May 2017
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has directed the Office of the Executive Secretary to implement another dismissal order against National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) and National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) officials Victor Roman Cacal, Romulo Relevo, Gondelina Amata, Chita Jalandoni, Emmanuel Sevidal, Ofelia Ordoñez, Filipina Rodriguez, Sofia Cruz and Gregoria Buenaventura. Cacal, et. al. were again found guilty of Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service arising from the fraudulent spending of the 2008 to 2009 P27.5 million Priority Development Assistant Fund (PDAF) of former Representative Roldolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur. The Ombudsman also ordered the respondents’ perpetual disqualification for re-employment in the government service; and were meted the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits.
In a 54-page Decision, the Ombudsman gave no credence to the respondents’ claim of lengthy government service, ratiocinating that, “respondents’ dedication and outstanding service to the government should not be cited as a circumstance that deserves public gratitude considering that the level of service which is expected from every public servant is no less that exemplary service. Public office is a public trust and public officers must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives,” Ombudsman Morales reiterated.
Field investigation and documentary evidence show that the P27.5 million PDAF of Plaza was channeled through the NGOs Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka (MAMFI) and the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI) – both controlled by Janet Lim Napoles.
Plaza’s PDAF was used to fund “ghost projects” consisting of alleged livelihood and agricultural production kits. On-site field validation confirmed that the packages were not received by the intended beneficiaries. Respondents facilitated the disbursement of millions of public funds using fabricated disbursements, certificates of acceptance, progress, inspection, and delivery reports.
The records of whistleblower Benhur Luy show that Plaza received kickbacks totalling 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.
“The funds in question could not have been transferred to these NGOs if not for [their] certifications, approvals, and signatures found in the corresponding DVs and checks,” the Decision stated.
To date, Cacal, et al. are facing multiple charges for the PDAF scam. Together with ex-Representative Plaza, they stand trial before the Sandiganbayan for five counts of Malversation and violations of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019). ###