Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ombudsman junks Masbate governor’s appeal By Bobby Q. Labalan

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 14 (PNA) -- Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Masbate Governor and former representative Rizalina Seachon-Lanete as she affirmed the finding of probable cause against the governor and four other former legislators for the misuse of government funds, the Office of the Ombudsman said through its website.

Lanete -- together with former Rep. Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan Del Sur), Samuel Dangwa (Benguet), Constantino Jaraula (Cagayan de Oro) and Edgar Valdez (APEC) -- was being accused of misappropriating her Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) amounting to Php339 million.

Also facing criminal indictments are Janet Lim Napoles and Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare -- all from the Department of Budget and Management.

In its earlier report, the Ombudsman said that “during her term as [congresswoman], Lanete continuously endorsed the implementation of her PDAF-funded livelihood and agricultural projects to questionable NGOs associated with or controlled by Napoles.”

The Ombudsman added that the Special Audit Report of COA supported the testimonies of the whistleblowers that Lanete received total commissions amounting to Php108.4 million from 2004 to 2010.

Of this amount, Php73 million was received from 2007 to 2009.

Likewise impleaded as co-accused are officers/representatives of the implementing agencies: Technology Resource Center Director General Antonio Ortiz, Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan and others; National Agri-Business Corp. President Alan Javellana and others; National Livelihood Development Corp. President Gondelina Amata and others; and a number of officers/representatives of the non-government organizations (NGOs), namely: the Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation, Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc., Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc, and the Social Development Program for Farmer Foundation, Inc.

Morales rejected the motions for reconsideration filed by the respondent-legislators as their pleadings were “pro-forma verbatim repetitions of the issues and claims raised in their counter-affidavits which were previously duly considered and already passed upon by the Office of the Ombudsman in its October 2014 Joint Resolutions."

Lanete, Jose Sumalpong, Napoles and De Asis as well as Valdez, Napoles and De Asis face separate plunder charges.

The orders also affirmed the finding against them and their respective sets of respondents for multiple counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Plaza, Dangwa and Jaraula and their respective sets of respondents face charges of Malversation, Direct Bribery, and violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

But the criminal complaints against NGO incorporators Aileen Palama, Noel Macha, Renato Ornopia, Lorna Ramirez, Gabby Saquing, Margarita Guadines, Aljerome Benito, Jesus Castillo, Theresita Samson and Annie Tan were dismissed in view of newly-discovered evidence consisting of the sworn statement submitted by the Field Investigation Office, stating that these individuals had no knowledge that their names and signatures were used in incorporating the so-called JLN NGOs.

The office also dropped the charges of Section 3(b) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Napoles. (PNA) CTB/FGS/BQL/CBD