MANILA, Philippines – Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Janet Lim Napoles-the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, and 23 others were charged with plunder by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the alleged misuse of the P900 million Malampaya Fund yesterday, October 3.

The said fund was intended to help the victims of the continuous storms way back in 2009.

Former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as well as former cabinet officials Nasser Pangandaman of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Rolando Andaya of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was also charged.

Officials from DAR who were also accused are former DAR Undersecretary Rafael Nieto, DAR Finance Officer Teresita Panlilio, DAR employees Angelita Cacananta, Nilda Baui, Dominador Sison Jr., and Ronald Venancio; and Malampaya fund coordinators Ruby Tuazon and Evelyn de Leon.

Former DBM Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and Candaba mayor Rene Maglanque were also included.

The leaders of the false non-government organizations (NGO) by Napoles filled up the list namely: John Lim of Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka, John Raymond de Asis of Kaupdanan para sa Manguguma Foundation, Genevieve Uy of Kasaganahan para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Simplicio Gumafelix of Karangyaan para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Jesus Castillo of Dalangpan San Amon Utod Foundation, Lilian Español of Saganang Buhay as Atin Foundation, Lorna Ramirez of Masaganang Buhay Foundation, Vanessa Eman of Abundant Harvest for People’s Foundation, Eulogio Rodriguez of Gintong Pangkabuyan Foundation, and Ronald Lim of Micro Agri Business Citizens Foundations.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and the NBI recommend in a letter-complaint that a preliminary investigation can be conducted to find out whether the 25 accused for stealing the fund deserves to undergo trial in Sandiganbayan.

Moreover, the same letter also stated that Napoles was informed ahead of time, as early as July 2009, that the Malampaya funds can be availed for pork barrel purposes wherein it was two months before Arroyo issued to release the said fund.

Alleged fake memorandum of agreements between Napoles’ NGO, local government units, and DAR were also discovered.

Several recipients shared the kickbacks or commissions from the P900 million in Malampaya fund with the total amount of P300 million.

Meanwhile, De Lima said that Arroyo and Ermita did not specify the identification of the authorized purpose through the DBM who has the access of the Malampaya fund. This causes the implementing agencies to secretly receive their requests for millions of pesos which are funded by the said agency.

Furthermore, she said that this shows that the funds are intentionally used for the purpose authorized by the President because the agencies did not submit any agency work or development plan.

“This leniency control displayed by the then President in the use of and access to an essentially presidential discretionary fund made possible the plunder of such fund, either intentionally or through gross inexcusable negligence,” De Lima added.

 

Written by:

Princess Hayra Brecio de Belen

ABCom, Leyte Normal University