The name of former Department of Agriculture Secretary, now Bohol 3rd District Congressman, was again dragged into a senator’s dismissal from government service ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) over irregularities in the use of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Senator Emmanuel Joel Villanueva was ordered dismissed from government service after he was found guilty by the OMB for the misuse of P10 million in the implementation of agri-based livelihood projects in the various congressional districts in Region Xl during his term as party list representative.
Villanueva was found guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service.
Villanueva categorically denied his involvement in the fund irregularities.
Yap was included in the criminal complaint before the Sandiganbayan for acceding to the request of Villanueva to release the P10 million to the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR), two days after the amount was released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
According to the OMB, Yap,Â as Department of Agriculture (DA) representative entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on June 19, 2008 with Alan Javellana, NABCOR president at that time, now a defunct agency of the DA that paved the way for the P10 million to fall into the hands of Aaron Foundation Philippines, Inc. (AFPI).
Yap, in a text message to theÂ ChronicleÂ said “I have filed my motion for reconsideration (MR) to the OMB’s findings. I never contracted with any NGO. I never implemented any PDAF project with any NGO. All PDAF funds coursed through my office were transferred to government agencies for implementation. I am innocent of these charges.”
Aside from the administrative dismissal order imposed by the OMB on Villanueva, the former party list representative of Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) and Yap, is set to face trial before the Sandiganbayan for one count each for Malversation of Public Funds and Malversation thru Falsification of Public Documents.
The two counts are violations of section 3(e) of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA No. 3019).
The charge sheet alleged that the P10 million from Villanueva’s PDAF was used to purchased pechay, radish, sitaw, okra, hybrid yellow corn seedlings, liquid fertilizers and threshers for resident beneficiaries of 8 municipalites in Compostela Valley province.
Local officials, according to the OMB certified and attested that no livelihood projects were implemented by AFPI and there no beneficiaries since those listed were not registered voters nor residents of the province.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales revealed that “NABCOR officers did not even bother to conduct a due diligence audit on AFPI as to its technical and financial capability and simply accepted and relied on the representation of Villanueva and AFPI to undertake the projects in contraventtion of existing procurement laws.”
YAP MEMO IGNORED
With close to P600 million of pork barrel funds released by the DBM,Â National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) and Zamboanga Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC) officials brazenly ignored DA Memo Circular No.1 Series of 2008 issued by then Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.
“It was a department wide order for compliance”, Yap told the Chronicle.
Hewing closely to the stringent requirements of COA Circular 2007-001, Yap
laid down procedural flows in the vetting of NGO’s and PO’s directly implementing PDAF of legislators.
Releases of funds were to be done by tranches based on percentage of completion even as projects should undergo bidding under RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Act, checks should be crossed for deposit to the account of the NGO/PO and documents submitted for accreditation should be rigorously reviewed.
Apparently dismayed by the turn of events, Yap, who tendered his resignation as DA Secretary March 4, 2010 to run for 3rd District congressman rued “NABCOR and ZREC officials did not explain to me anymore their actions because they are no under obligation to report to me as I was not anymore their boss”.
Even Notice of Disallowances issued by COA were blatantly disregarded by officials of NABCOR and ZREC with NABCOR officials ordered to return P1.45 billion released to questionable NGO’s.Â (Chito M. Visarra)