DAR officials, workers decry plunder raps
MANILA - A labor union at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Friday criticized Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and the National Bureau of Investigation for including some of its members in plunder charges related to the Malampaya fund scam.
The 12,000-strong Department of Agrarian Reform Employees Association (DAREA), in a press statement, denied that they are co-conspirators in the scam.
"Our responsibility is to see to it that the paper works (sic) are in order," the statement said. "Are we at the Cabinet level?"
DAREA president Nanette Pascual said career officials and employees tagged in the scam only did ministerial work.
"The same career officials and employees were reported to be under investigation by the Ombudsman a month ago with another anomaly involving another SARO (Special Allotment Release Order) for P200 Million issued in 2007 to ostensibly cover fund support for agri-business development projects," she said.
"But we found out that the DBM attached annexes listing the LGU beneficiaries, making it a done deal even before it reaches DAR. The DBM officials said that it was unusual, even going to the extent of branding DAR documents as fake," she added.
Pascual said they have the original documents and are willing to show them to investigators.
"The DAREA condemns this practice of turning the DAR into a virtual clearing house for scams concocted at the highest levels and now our rank and file employees and career officials are now being put up as sacrificial lambs or scapegoats," she added.
The DAR career officials included in the charge sheet filed before the Office of the Ombudsman are Director Teresita Panlilio, accountant Angelita Cacananta, casher Nilda Baui, former Admin Services director Dominador Sison, and budget head Ronald Venancio.
They are members of the DAREA.
Others named in the charge sheet include former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, former Budget Secretary and now Rep. Rolando Andaya, Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, former Agrarian Reform Usec. Narciso Nieto, Presidential Agrarian Reform Council Secretariat official Teresita Panlilio, and Candaba Mayor Rene Maglanque.
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.