Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of malversation charges against a former lawmaker and several others in connection with their alleged involvement in the fertilizer fund scam, which was one of the corruption scandals that rocked the Arroyo administration.
Former Palawan Rep. Abraham Khalil Mitra, an ally of President Benigno Aquino III, is being implicated in the questionable release of P3 million of government funds to a non-government organization (NGO) that has no track record of implementing government projects.
The fund was supposed to be for the implementation of the government’s Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program for poor farmers.
A news release from the Office of the Ombudsman said Mitra, in a letter dated February 20, 2004, endorsed GabayMasa Development Foundation as cooperating NGO to implement the P3 million fund allocation intended for Palawan’s second district.
In April that year, GabayMasa were issued two checks totalling P3 million to implement the program.
However, the Commission on Audit (COA) later found out that GabayMasa is not an accredited cooperative as required under COA Circular No. 96-003, “and that it has no existing track record with respect to the implementation of agricultural projects in the countryside,” the Ombudsman said.
It also noted that no liquidation reports were also produced to show how the funds were utilized.
The Office of the Ombudsman said informations for Malversation and violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act will be filed against Mitra and several DA-Regional Field Unit (DA-RFU) officials, namely Executive Director Dennis Araullo, Regional Technical Directors Gregorio Sangalang and Balagtas Torres, Legislative Coordinator Lucille Odejar, and Regional Accountant Raymundo Braganza.
The Information will also be filed against GabayMasa representatives Margie Tajon Luz, Concha Idica, Ma. Christina Viscarra, Caridad Tajon, Melencio Punzalan and Rodolfo Luz.
In the related administrative case, the Office of the Ombudsman found substantial evidence to hold Araullo, Sangalang, Torres, Odejar and Braganza guilty of Grave Misconduct and were dismissed from the service with the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service. —KBK, GMA News
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