By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Reporter

20 lawmakers linked to new pork barrel scam

Posted on September 03, 2015

THE FORMER LAWYER of a scam whistle-blower yesterday filed a new complaint over the pork barrel at the Office of the Ombudsman, which tags 20 lawmakers who reportedly misused public funds worth nearly P500 million.

Atty. Levito Baligod: PDAF of 20 lawmakers worth P490 million was squandered. (Bernard P. Testa/InterAksyon)
Levito D. Baligod, a previous lawyer of witness Benhur K. Luy for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, submitted a fresh set of sworn statements against 20 current and former lawmakers over what he claimed to be illegal transactions worth P490.7 million.

The sum, he said, is apart from the pork deals already in court, but followed the same scheme where the funds were channeled to bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) but not to those owned by alleged scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles.

“Affiants reveal in their affidavits how the PDAF of 20 legislators in the aggregate amount of P490,685,000 was squandered and the participation of each of those who appear to be responsible therefor,” Mr. Baligod said in a Sept. 2 letter addressed to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

The lawmakers tagged in the raps are incumbent senators Ramon “Bong” B. Revilla, Jr. (P22 million) and Juan Ponce Enrile (P15 million), and lawmakers Iloilo Rep. Niel C. Tupas, Jr. (P5 million), YACAP Rep. Carol Jane B. Lopez (P29 million), Negros Occidental Rep. Julio A. Ledesma IV (P27 million), San Jose Del Monte Rep. Arturo B. Robes (P8 million), and Albay Rep. Al Francis C. Bichara (P18 million).

Also charged were former senators Edgardo J. Angara (P20 million), former House Speaker and Davao City Rep. Prospero B. Nograles (P96 million), ex-Catanduanes Rep. Joseph A. Santiago (P32.5 million), ex-Bohol Rep. Roberto C. Cajes (P93.5 million), and ex-Aklan Rep. Florencio T. Miraflores (P25 million).

Also on Mr. Baligod’s list are ex-CIBAC Rep. and incumbent Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) chief Joel L. Villanueva (P45 million), ex-Laguna Rep. Edgar S. San Luis (P10 million), ex-Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo W. Antonino (P15 million), ex-Albay Rep. Reno G. Lim (P33.4 million), ex-Laguna Rep. Maria Evita R. Arago (P6 million), ex-Pangasinan Rep. Rachel J. Arenas (P9.75 million), ex-Oriental Mindoro Rep. Alfonso V. Umali (P4.8 million), and ex-Misamis Occidental Rep. Marina P. Clarete (P37.5 million).

Mr. Baligod alleged the lawmakers misused their PDAF allocations to pocket portions of the funds as their kickbacks who were named in the special audit report of the Commission on Audit covering the years 2007 to 2009.

The lawyer added the P490.7 million comes from some P1.6-billion PDAF bankrolled by the lawmakers to the state firm National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR) which in turn transferred the amounts to NGOs.

The complaints came with sworn statements from four new witnesses named Bernadette D.C. Ricalde and Katherine M. Namoro, who claimed to be the former staff of Mr. Robes; and former NABCOR employees Victor Roman C. Cacal and Rhodora B. Mendoza.

The NABCOR officials claimed that their former boss Alan A. Javellana would issue checks and other official duties by himself, which is against agency protocol. Mr. Javellana is currently facing multiple charges at the Sandiganbayan over the PDAF scam.

In his letter, Mr. Baligod asked the Office of the Ombudsman to “look into” and “validate” the allegations of the four witnesses, who alleged the solons misused funds which appeared to be a case of malversation done by falsifying government documents.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, TESDA’s Mr. Villanueva said he has long been cleared from the PDAF mess, saying that the National Bureau of Investigation has confirmed that the supposed documents with his name were faked.

“I don’t know until when this will last and if it will continue until the elections. I am confident in saying that I am ready to face this. I never had any dealings or transactions with any of these NGOs,” Mr. Villanueva said on the sidelines of his agency’s budget briefing at the House of Representatives.