THE Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday dismissed 12 officials of the National Livelihood Development Corp., the Technology Resource Center and the defunct National Agribusiness Corp. from government service for their involvement in the anomalous use of the P54-million Priority Development Assistance Fund of former Rep. Samuel Dangwa of Benguet.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales also imposed the penalty of dismissal for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service against the 12 officials —NLDC’s Gondelina Amata, Chita Jalandoni, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Ofelia Ordoñez, Filipina Rodriguez and Sofia Cruz; TRC’s Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu and Belina Concepcion, and NabCor’s Victor Cacal and Romulo Relevo.
Documents showed Dangwa received P54 million in pork barrel fund coursed through non-government organizations linked to Janet Lim Napoles, and three implementing government agencies from 2007 until 2009 for the acquisition of livelihood and agricultural assistance kits and packages for the project beneficiaries.
Amata and company processed, facilitated and approved the transactions and payments for the ghost projects, Morales said.
Based on a special audit report of the Commission on Audit, the agricultural and livelihood assistance kits/packages supposed to be delivered were non-existent.
In addition, the NGOs submitted fake or falsified supporting documents to support its liquidation, and that these lacked the track record and capacity to implement the projects.
The Ombudsman also said the officials did not hold a public bidding or accreditation process, adding “to date, P11 million of Dangwa’s PDAF remains unliquidated.”
“In spite of these deficiencies, respondent public officers Amata, Cunanan, Cacal, Relevo, Sevidal, Cruz, Jalandoni, Jover, Rodriguez, Ordoñez, Espiritu and Concepcion, with indecent haste, expedited the release of the PDAF disbursements to the NGOs affiliated with or controlled by Napoles. These foregoing acts of respondents constitute grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service,” the decision read.
Morales rejected the respondents’ claim of good faith and presumption of regularity in the performance of their duties and ruled that “the act of certification or release of funds, approval and the affixation of signature in the disbursement vouchers, obligation slip and checks are neither mere formalities nor ministerial functions but involve the exercise of sound discretion that must be diligently performed as these are imbued with public interest.”
The 12 government officials were also meted out the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service.