'Officials in Malampaya plunder got P337M in kickbacks'
Arroyo camp says Malampaya disbursements legal
MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - The National Bureau of Investigation on Thursday filed plunder and graft charges against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and several others for the alleged misuse of the P900-million Malampaya Fund.
Other incumbent and former government officials slapped with plunder raps are:
- Former Budget Secretary and now congressman Rolando Andaya
- Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos
- ex-agrarian reform undersecretary Narciso Nieto
- Presidential Agrarian Reform Council Secretariat Teresita Panlilio
- Candaba Mayor Rene Maglanque
- Angelita Cacananta of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
- Nilda Bawi of DAR
- Dominador Sison Jr. of DAR
- Ronaldo Venancio of DAR
The DOJ also recommended the filing of plunder complaints against businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the pork barrel scam, as well as presidents and officers of alleged fake NGOs set up by Napoles.
The complaint accuses the respondents of misusing P900-million in Malampaya funds that were supposed to help victims of Tropical Storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in 2009. Whistle-blowers said the fund went to fake non-government organizations set up by Janet Lim Napoles and then diverted to private pockets.
According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, businesswoman and pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles got wind of the Malampaya fund as early as July 2009.
On October 8, 2009, the Department of Budget and Management wrote to Malacañang seeking permission to use part of the Malampaya fund for farmers affected by tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.
On October 13, 2009, the Palace issued Executive Order No. 848 allowing the DBM to use the Department of Energy's special funds for any project authorized by Mrs. Arroyo.
De Lima said the hastily issued EO "invalidly liberalized the exploitation of the Malampaya fund for purposes not contemplated by existing laws."
She said Napoles directed her staff to forge the signatures of mayors for letter-requests to the DAR to get the funds for herself.
"Napoles directed her JLN staff to manufacture the necessary documents for submission to the DAR including fake letter requests from mayors whose farmer beneficiaries are supposed to be the recipients of projects financed by the P900 million fund. This was followed by a fake memorandum of agreement supposedly entered into between the Napoles NGOs, the LGUs and the DAR were the signatures of the mayors was always forged," she said.
She said the MOAs were signed by Nieto.
De Lima said a total of P337.775 million in kickbacks from the Malampaya funds "were distributed all around to public officials who participated in the plunder scheme."
She said the following officials received the following kickbacks as told by whistle-blowers:
- Pangandaman - P75 million received in cash from Napoles and through bank withdrawal care of Rene Maglanque
- Panlilio - P14 million received in cash from Napoles and through bank withdrawal
- Nieto - P6 million received through bank withdrawal care of Evelyn de Leon
- Ruby Tuason - P242.775 million received through bank withdrawals for a still unidentified principal
"We're still trying to actually trace kung kanino napunta o sino ang principal ni Ruby Tuason because it looks like, it appears that she was an agent," de Lima noted.
Tuason is also facing plunder charges for her alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
Tuason, who is the former social secretary of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, is the alleged contact of Napoles in the offices of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.
Enrile and Estrada are also both facing plunder raps over the PDAF scam.
De Lima said that as a result of the conspiratorial acts of the DBM and DAR officials with Napoles, "said conspirators pocketed the amount or total value of P900 million supposedly intended for the relief operations, rehabilitation, reconstruction and other works and services to areas affected by natural calamities as mentioned in the October 13, 2009 letter of then Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr."
She added that Napoles could not have submitted the requests without prior knowledge of the signing of Mrs. Arroyo's EO.
Meanwhile, the camp of former President Arroyo said disbursements from the Malampaya fund are legal.
"As far as the former president is concerned the P20 billion plus Malampaya funds were authorized pursuant to the policies and purposes as mandated by the provisions of presidential decree 910," her legal spokesman and chief of staff Raul Lambino said.
Lambino declined further comments on the matter.
Arroyo is detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center for a previous charge of plunder over the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.
The case remains pending before the Sandiganbayan. With a report by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News