PHILIPPINE Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales orders the prosecution before the Sandiganbayan of former Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino and seven other persons, including Arthur Yap, former agriculture secretary during the previous administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III; in connection with the multi-million peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
Specifically, Antonino and his co-accused would face trial for two counts of malversation in violation of the Revised Penal Code and two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) before the anti-graft court. The filing of the charges, government lawyers said, indicates that the Office of the Ombudsman has not relented in its investigation of the PDAF scam.
Ombudsman records shows that in January 2007, Antonino requested and directly endorsed the National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR) and Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. (BMMKFI) to the DA as implementors of his livelihood training kits (LTK) project.
On 22 March 2007, BMMKFI through Antonino, exclusively procured from C.C. Barredo 7,275 sets of LTKs worth
P2,000.00 each or a total of P14.55million. One day after, or on 23 March 2007, the supplier allegedly delivered the LTKs in Roxas Boulevard which were accepted and acknowledged by Antonino.
Upon actual field verification, it was found that these were ghost projects as several local officials of Nueva Ecija denied ever receiving any of the LTKs. Neither was the project supported by any project proposal, physical and audited financial reports, monitoring reports or due diligence conducted in the supplier and NGO-selection process. There was also no public bidding or any procurement conducted for the project.
Furthermore, Morales said “the evidence established that respondent public officers conspired with private respondents in this disreputable scheme to defraud government coffers” by preparing fictitious reports and other liquidation documents that would make it appear that the PDAF-funded project was implemented.
The Ombudsman emphasized that “in a Congressional Pork Barrel System, including the PDAF, it is the legislator who exercises actual control and custody of the PDAF share allocated to him.”
Nevertheless, Antonino said he never signed any endorsement letter concerning the case cited above. He also disclosed that he has already filed a motion for reconsideration and is now awaiting the resolution of his case.
Aside from Antonino and Yap, the other respondents in this particular case are Alan Javellana, Rhodora Mendoza, Encarnita Cristina Munsod, Maria Ninez Guañizo, all from the NABCOR; Marilou Antonio, representative of BMMKFI; and Carmelita Barredo of C.C. Barredo Publishing House.