Ex-DA chief Arthur Yap faces raps over 'pork scam'

Posted at 06/23/14 4:18 PM

MANILA – The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday said it has filed malversation charges against former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, two former congressmen, and several others for allegedly misappropriating pork barrel funds.

The Ombudsman said it has filed a complaint for Malversation of Public Funds and violation the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Yap and former Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino for alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Also included in the complaint were former National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) officials Alan Javellana, Encarnita Cristina Munsod, Rhodora Mendoza and Maria Niñez Guanizo as well as Marilou Antonio, president of Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. (BMMKFI), and Carmelita Barredo, general manager of CC Barredo Publishing House.

Investigators found out that on February 14, 2007 Antonino requested Yap to transfer his funds to National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) even if NABCOR was not identified in the General Appropriations Act of 2007 as one of the implementing agencies of PDAF.

The Department of Budget and Management, nonetheless, issued an advice of notice of cash allocation (NCA) to the Department of Agriculture (DA) on February 23, 2007.

The DA then entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with NABCOR on March 7, 2007. Two days after the MOA was signed, NABCOR was issued with a disbursement voucher and then facilitated payment a week after.

But two days before the MOA was signed, it was discovered that Yap and Javellana, then NABCOR president, had already entered into a MOA with BMMKFI, through its president, Marilou Antonio, upon the request of Rep. Antonino, on the implementation of the project worth P14,550,000.00.

''Records also show that Javellana approved the release of the first tranche of payment to BMMKFI without the signature of NABCOR accountant Roderica Bitancor who was supposed to certify that the supporting documents are complete and proper,'' the Ombudsman said.

NABCOR received 90% of the amount on March 21, 2007 through a check signed by Javellana and Mendoza, then NABCOR director for financial services.

The remaining 10% of the project cost was released April 24, 2007.

The Ombudsman said BMMKFI exclusively procured from CC Barredo 7,275 sets of Livelihood Technology Kits (Volumes 1-1V) with a unit cost of P2,000 or a total of P14,550,000.

However, investigators noticed that CC Barredo made an offer to BMMKFI as early as February 14, 2007.

The 7,275 livelihood kits were supposedly distributed to beneficiaries in Gapan City and the municipalities of San Isidro, General Tinio, Cabiao, Jaen, Peñaranda and San Leonardo in Nueva Ecija.

The complaint, however, said on-site validation showed that the project was non-existent. Investigators noted that neither BMMKFI nor Antonino submitted a list of actual beneficiaries or a detailed liquidation report.

Solon allocates pork to own NGO

The Ombudsman also filed a complaint of Malversation of Public Funds and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against former Isabela Rep. Anthony Miranda and nine others for the alleged misuse of P21 million in PDAF.

Aside from Miranda, also charged were Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (now Technology Resource Center) officials Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Belina Concepcion, Francisco Figura, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, and Consuelo Lilian Reyes Espiritu, as well as Domingo Mamauag and Edison Sabio of Aksyon Makamasa Foundation, Inc. (AMFI).

Investigators said Miranda gave a total of P21 million in two separate releases to Aksyon Makamasa Foundation, Inc., with the TLRC as the implementing agency.

Miranda, it turned out, was an incorporator, director and chairman of AMFI, based on the NGO's records with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Investigation shows that on February 8, 2007, Rep. Miranda requested that P10 million of his his PDAF be released to AMFI. The DBM issued an NCA five days later.

On March 9, 2007 TLRC Legislative Liaison Officer Concepcion recommended to TLRC Director-General Ortiz the release of P9.5 million. Citing a MOA signed between TLRC and AMFI, the remaining P500,000 was retained to TLRC for the cost of livelihood materials, livelihood training, and service fee.

The MOA, however, would only be executed and signed by Ortiz, Miranda and Sabio on March 12, 2007.

''On same date, Mamauag received the P9.5 million Land Bank check dated March 13, 2007 through an undated disbursement voucher signed by Cunanan, Jover and Ortiz,'' the Ombudsman said.

With respect to the second release worth P11 million, TLRC Group Manager Lacsamana recommended on March 23, 2007 the release of P10,560,000.00 under the terms of a MOA with AMFI, which would later be executed on March 30, 2007.

Mamauag then acknowledge receipt of the P10.56 million on April 2, 2007.

Investigators said the two MOAs were fraught with irregularities, such as lack of identified beneficiaries, lack of standards for project implementation and project acceptance, lack of project cost estimates, and one lump sum payment instead of a schedule of release of payment.

The complaint said AMFI failed to submit the required three-year financial statements to TLRC that would have ensured that AMFI was in a stable financial condition.

It was also discovered, based on SEC records, that AMFI sourced its funds only from government assistance, and that it did not comply with SEC reportorial requirements from 2007 to present.

''Investigation did not yield any record showing that AMFI implemented or completed the projects, despite demand by COA to liquidate as early as May 30, 2012,'' the Ombudsman said.