Ombudsman sues ex-Maguindanao guv over P500-M fund scam

MANILA The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday charged before the Sandiganbayan a former provincial governor of Maguindanao and three others in connection with the alleged misuse of PHP500-million worth of farm-to-market roads project in 2009.

In a press release, the Ombudsman said it found probable cause to charge former Maguindanao Gov. Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan and provincial treasurer OsmeAa Bandila before the anti-graft court with violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Articles 217, or Malversation of Public Funds, and 218, or Failure of Accountable Officer to Render Account, of the Revised Penal Code.

Also charged with violation of Section 3(e) of RA No. 3019 and Article 217 of the RPC are provincial accountant John Estelito Dollosa and state auditor Danny Calib of the Commission on Audit (COA).

Court records showed that in June 2009, the Maguindanao province entered into several Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for the construction and rehabilitation of the province's farm-to-market roads with a project cost of PHP500 million.

Despite repeated demands from the DAR to account for the funds, the respondents failed to submit supporting documents such as liquidation reports, list of beneficiaries, and certificates of acceptance to support the disbursement of funds and implementation of the project.

In its finding, the COA said the roads were in bad condition and far shorter than the reported lengths, and the reported accomplishments were no longer visible, are sufficient proof to engender a well-founded belief that public funds were misappropriated for respondents Ampatuan, Bandila, Dollosa and Calib's own private use or benefit.

As the head and representative of the Province, respondent Ampatuan was primarily tasked by the MOAs to receive the funds and to oversee the implementation of the projects. There is no dispute that the Province received the funds, the Ombudsman said in its resolution.

The investigation conducted by the COA, however, belie the assertion that the projects were implemented, the Ombudsman added.

On the other hand, respondents Bandila, Dollosa and Calib tried to make it appear that the projects were implemented by executing Certificate No. 02 which states that the amount of PHP499,999,850 out of the PHP500,000,000 of the funds obtained from DAR was disbursed by the Province from June 2009 to September 2009, the anti-graft body said.

These circumstances sufficiently establish that respondents Ampatuan, Bandila, Dollosa and Calib came to an agreement concerning the misappropriation of the funds and decided to commit the same, it added. (Ombudsman PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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