Ex-Iloilo solon, 5 others rapped on PHP4.8-M PDAF scam

MANILA-- Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of multiple charges against former Iloilo Rep. Niel "JunJun" Tupas Jr. for his involvement in the anomalous utilization of his 2008 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Tupas is set to be tried before the Sandiganbayan for two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act", one count of malversation and one count of malversation thru falsification of public documents.

Likewise included in the charge sheet were Alan Javellana, Rhodora Mendoza, Romulo Relevo, Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, all from the National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR); and Marilou Antonio, project coordinator of the Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation, Inc. (KKAMFI).

In a letter dated May 15, 2008, Tupas requested the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the transfer of PHP5 million to the NABCOR for the implementation of his PDAF-funded projects.

The funds were supposed to buy hand tractors, water pumps and grafted fruit seedlings.

As a non-government organization (NGO)-partner, Tupas recommended KKAMFI as project implementor.

During its field inquiry, the Ombudsman found that Tupas implemented "ghost projects" as mayors from the six municipalities of Ajuy, Batad, Estancia, Lemery, San Rafael and Sara denied receiving any of the farm implements.

The Ombudsman also found that the liquidation documents submitted by respondents were all fabricated, with Tupas himself signing the alleged list of beneficiaries of equipment and seedlings from his district.

In its resolution, the Ombudsman stressed that "to be able to repeatedly release substantial funds from the PDAF, access thereto must be made available, and this was made possible by Tupas Jr. who directly chose and endorsed his own NGO to implement his PDAF-related projects. Tupas, Jr. himself issued the requisite indorsement letters and similar documentation addressed to the DA and NABCOR, acts which were necessary to ensure that the chosen NGO would be awarded the project."

"The evident misuse of the PDAF allocations through fictitious or non-existent projects should render respondents liable for malversation," Morales said.

She added that "this Office is convinced that they conspired with one another in this nefarious scheme to misappropriate public funds drawn from Tupas Jr.'s PDAF."

Source: Philippines News Agency

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