Negros Oriental Congressman charged over P10M PDAF scam
18 October 2017
Herminio Teves, the former congressman of the 3rd district of Negros Oriental is set to face trial for his involvement in irregularities in the disbursement of his 2007 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge Teves with one count of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) and one count of Malversation of Public Funds. Also ordered charged were Teves’ chief of staff, Hiram Pulido, and Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) representatives Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Belina Concepcion and Francisco Figura.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council was furnished with copies of the Resolution for possible violations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
An extensive probe conducted by Ombudsman investigators uncovered documents showing that the former Congressman’s P10million PDAF, originally intended for livelihood projects for the depressed barangays in the 3rd district was instead used to fund Teves’ ghost projects. It will be recalled that in December 2006, the congressman requested the release of his 4th tranche of PDAF allocations and selected the TLRC as implementing agency and the Molugan Foundation, Inc., as conduit non-government organization (NGO). It was also later determined that the Molugan Foundation did not have the capacity to implement the project as it was incorporated only in 2007, the year it was tasked to implement the PDAF project. Field investigators also found that no public bidding was conducted and that the NGO’s place of incorporation and the whereabouts of its incorporators both yielded negative results. Despite being a ghost project, respondents facilitated the approval of the disbursement voucher and check for the NGO in a single day.
The COA Special Audits Office Report and Notice of Disallowance disclosed that the projects supposedly funded by Teves’ PDAF were ghost or inexistent as there were no documents of its implementation or actual fund utilization.
In defense, the veteran lawmaker claimed that “his signatures appearing in various documents linking him to the transactions are products of forgery.” The Ombudsman junked this defense and stated that “forgery is not presumed; it must be proved by clear, positive and convincing evidence and the burden of proof lies on the party alleging forgery as mere variance of the signatures in different documents cannot be considered as conclusive proof that one is forged.”
According to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, “certainly, this illegal conversion and transfer of public funds to the Molugan Foundation, purportedly for projects which did not actually exist, represent quantifiable pecuniary losses to the government constituting undue injury within the context of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019.”
In the related administrative case, Hiram Pulido was found guilty of Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and was ordered dismissed with the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of eligibility. In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to his salary for one year. ###