via Trixie Jaafar
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of multiple charges against ex-Iloilo representative Niel “JunJun” Tupas, Jr. for his involvement in the anomalous utilization of his 2008 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Tupas is set to be tried before the Sandiganbayan for two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019), one count of Malversation, and one count of Malversation thru Falsification of Public Documents.
Also included in the charge sheet are Alan Javellana, Rhodora Mendoza, Romulo Relevo, Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, all from the National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR) and Marilou Antonio, project coordinator of the Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation, Inc. (KKAMFI).
In a letter dated 15 May 2008, Tupas requested the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the transfer of P5 million to the NABCOR for the implementation of his PDAF-funded projects. The funds were supposed to buy hand tractors, water pumps and grafted fruit seedlings. As NGO-partner, Tupas recommended KKAMFI as project implementor. During its field investigation, the Ombudsman found that Tupas implemented “ghost projects” as mayors from the six municipalities of Ajuy, Batad, Estancia, Lemery, San Rafael and Sara denied receiving any of the farm implements. The Ombudsman also found that the liquidation documents submitted by respondents were all fabricated, with Tupas himself signing the alleged list of beneficiaries of equipment and seedlings from his district.
In its Resolution, the Ombudsman highlighted that “to be able to repeatedly release substantial funds from the PDAF, access thereto must be made available, and this was made possible by Tupas, Jr. who directly chose and endorsed his own NGO to implement his PDAF-related projects. Tupas, Jr. himself issued the requisite indorsement letters and similar documentation addressed to the DA and NABCOR, acts which were necessary to ensure that the chosen NGO would be awarded the project.”
“The evident misuse of the PDAF allocations through fictitious or non-existent projects should render respondents liable for Malversation” stated Ombudsman Morales. She added that, “this Office is convinced that they conspired with one another in this nefarious scheme to misappropriate public funds drawn from Tupas, Jr.’s PDAF.” | OMBUDSMAN-PR