GOVERNMENT prosecutors have indicted former Representative Herminio Teves of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental due to alleged violation of the anti-graft laws in connection with the disbursement of his Php10 million Priority Development Assistance Fund in 2006.
Specifically, the Office of the Ombudsman charged Teves before the Sandiganbayan with one count of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and one count of Malversation of Public Funds.
Also charged together with the 97-year old former lawmaker before the anti-graft court were his chief of staff, Hiram Pulido, Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) representatives Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Belina Concepcion and Francisco Figura.
At the same time, the government’s anti-graft prosecutors furnished the Anti-Money Laundering Council with copies of its Resolution so it could separately investigate Teves for possible violations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
Records show that Ombudsman investigators have uncovered documents showing that Teves’ Php10 million PDAF, originally intended for livelihood projects for the depressed barangays in his district, was instead used to fund his ghost projects.
The prosecutors recalled that in December 2006, Teves requested the release of the 4th tranche of his PDAF allocations and selected the TLRC as implementing agency and the Molugan Foundation, Inc., as conduit non-government organization (NGO).
However, the anti-graft prosecutors learned that the Molugan Foundation did not have the capacity to implement the project as it was incorporated only in 2007, the year it was tasked to implement the PDAF project.
Field investigators also said no public bidding was conducted and that the NGO’s place of incorporation and the whereabouts of its incorporators both yielded negative results. Despite being a ghost project, they added, respondents facilitated the approval of the disbursement voucher and check for the NGO in a single day.
The prosecutors also cited a Commission on Audit Special Audits Office Report and Notice of Dis-allowance disclosure that the projects supposedly funded by Teves’ PDAF were ghost or non-existent as there were no documents of its implementation or actual fund utilization.
In his defense, Teves claimed that “his signatures appearing in various documents linking him to the transactions are products of forgery.”
However, the Ombudsman junked his defense and stressed that “forgery is not presumed; it must be proved by clear, positive and convincing evidence and the burden of proof lies on the party alleging forgery as mere variance of the signatures in different documents cannot be considered as conclusive proof that one is forged.”
Moreover, the Ombudsman said “certainly, this illegal conversion and transfer of public funds to the Molugan Foundation, purportedly for projects which did not actually exist, represent quantifiable pecuniary losses to the government constituting undue injury within the context of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019.”
In a related administrative case, the Ombudsman said Pulido was found guilty of Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and was ordered dismissed.
He was also meted the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of eligibility. However, the Ombudsman added, in case he is already separated from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to his salary for one year.