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Ombudsman probes scam

  • Written by Joel dela Torre
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 432

THE Office of the Ombudsman is now investigating a former secretary, two senators, a congressman turned mayor and several others in connection with their alleged involvement in the alleged P220-million scam at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Under probe are ex-DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes, Senator Gregorio Honasan and his former colleague Jinggoy Estrada and former San Jose del Monte, Bulacan Representative now Mayor Arturo Robes.

Also included in the preliminary investigation for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Malversation through Falsification of Public Documents are former DAR Undersecretaries Narciso Nieto, Jerry Pacturan, and Teresita Panlilio along with Budget and Management Undersecretary Mario Relampagos.

Others being investigated are Janet Lim Napoles; DAR employees, Ronald Venancio and Rowena Agbayani; NGO representatives, namely: Evelyn De Leon, John Raymond De Asis, Mylene Encarnacion, Simplicio Gumafelix, Eulogio Rodriguez, Evelyn Miranda, Perfecto Jaime Tagalog, Remo Bana, Michelle Imperial, Richard Tubiera, Lyngie Tubiera, Melinda Calagui, Ronald John Lim, Jr.; notaries public Atty. Donato Manguiat, Atty. Editha Talaboc, Atty. Mark Oliveros, Atty. Raymond Gerardo Tansip; Florida Robes, spouse of respondent Robes; Estrada staff member Pauline Therese Labayen; and a certain Rodrigo Galay.

According to a field investigation, from 2010 to 2011 the DAR allocated P220 million for livelihood and training projects for farmers  in 27 municipalities in the provinces of Isabela, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Ilocos Norte, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Quezon, Batangas, and Pangasinan. 
Of the P220 million, P20 million came from the 2010 DAR regular fund released upon the request of Senator Honasan; P100 million came from the 2011 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Honasan; and the remaining P100 million was sourced from the regular fund for 2011, P50 million of which was released upon the request of former Senator Estrada and the other P50 million for projects endorsed by DAR Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan.
The P220 million remains unliquidated despite several Notices of Disallowance from the Commission on Audit due to the non-existence of the projects.
Under the DAR project, each municipality was supposed to receive funds ranging from P5 to P10 million with 13 non-government organizations (NGOs) tasked to implement the programs. Actual field verification, however, showed that none of the projects was implemented and were “ghost projects.”
Documents also showed that there was a deliberate or extensive use of falsified documents and forged signatures in order to fully document, substantiate and justify the disbursement and utilization of the P220 million.
Delos Reyes, Pacturan, Relampagos, Panlilio, Venancio and Agbayani are also facing administrative adjudication proceedings for Grave Misconduct, Gross Neglect of Duty, Serious Dishonesty and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.