An Ombudsman panel composed of five lawyers will hear the complaint filed on the alleged misuse of the P200 million allotted for agri-business development under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales yesterday created a Special Panel to conduct preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication of the criminal and administrative charges filed by the Field Investigation Office after the FIO has completed its case build-up which began even before Benhur Luy blew the whistle on the alleged P10-billion "pork barrel scam."
Included in the criminal complaint for violation of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and falsification of official documents are former Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary and now party-list Rep. Nasser Pangandaman, Undersecretary Narciso Nieto, Director Teresita Panlilio, Chief Accountant Angelita Cacananta, Budget Officer Ronald Venancio and cashier Nilda Baui.
Also included are three notaries public, three certified public accountants, and 24 private individuals, including Benhur Luy.
Facing administrative charges for grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, gross neglect of duty, and serious dishonesty are Pangandaman, Nieto, Panlilio, Venancio, and Baui.
The FIO complaint alleged in 2007 and 2008, the DAR officials granted funds for "Agri-Business Development," "Micro-Livelihood Project" or "Agricultural Production" to seven non-governmental organizations in violation of the Commission on Audit circular on the release of funds to NGOs and People's Organizations.
The projects appeared to have been delivered to certain municipalities in Cagayan, Pangasinan, Cavite, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, and Agusan del Sur, but whose supposed beneficiaries denied having signed or received anything.
The 245-page complaint identified the seven NGOs as Philippine Agri and Social Economic Development Foundation, Inc.; Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc.; Agrikultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Inc.; and Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc.
Also included in the case are the People's Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Inc.; Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc.; and Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation, Inc.
The same panel was also ordered to conduct preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication of all other cases that may arise from or involve the utilization of the Priority Development Assistance Fund.*PNA