Budget official, gov’t workers get suspension for pork scam cases

Posted on March 11, 2015

THE SANDIGANBAYAN Third Division has suspended 10 government employees -- including a Budget undersecretary -- for 90 days owing to multiple graft charges related to the pork barrel scam.

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Mario L. Relampagos, Chief Budget and Management specialist Rosario S. Nuñez, DBM staff members Lalaine N. Paule and Marilou D. Bare were ordered suspended for three months due to multiple counts of graft raps before the anti-graft court.

Also facing suspension are the following officials: Marivic V. Jover, chief accountant of the Technology Resource Center (TRC); Gondelina G. Amata, president of the National Livelihood Development Center (NLDC); directors Emmanuel Alexis G. Sevidal and Sofia D. Cruz; and Chita C. Jalandoni and Gregoria Buenaventura.

The Philippines’ anti-graft law makes it “mandatory” for the Sandiganbayan to suspend any public official facing “any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property,” the magistrates said in a 14-page ruling.

The 10 public officials are facing graft charges before the Third Division as the co-accused of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, but have posted bail bonds for temporary freedom pending trial.

They are also facing separate counts of graft raps before all of the Sandiganbayan’s five divisions for allegedly conspiring with eight lawmakers to misuse their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to gain kickbacks from the illegal scheme.

The TRC and NLDC executives authorized the bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) owned by Janet Lim-Napoles to receive the lawmakers’ PDAF to implement livelihood programs for poor farmers. The DBM officials, meanwhile, are charged for signing the allotment and release orders of public money for the NGOs.

Mr. Enrile, alongside his co-accused Senators Ramon “Bong” B. Revilla, Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” E. Estrada, were ordered suspended by the court last year, pending trial for plunder and graft charges in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam. -- Melissa Luz T. Lopez