THE Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict former Iloilo Rep. Rolex T. Suplico over misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2007.

In a resolution on Jan. 8 and publicized on Jan. 26, the Ombudsman said that there was enough basis to charge Mr. Suplico with one count of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Mr. Suplico was found to have received P14.7 million as part of his PDAF before the May 2007 elections which he transferred to the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), acting as the implementing agency.

The money was later released to AARON Foundation Philippines Inc (AARON) which acted as the non-government organization (NGO) partner in the implementation of the development and livelihood projects for the 5th district of Iloilo. The Ombudsman found that Aaron Foundation has no business permit since 2004 and that its business address was traced to a vacant lot.

However, the Commission on Audit (COA), through the audit conducted by the Special Audit Office, reported that the funds were spent but were not covered by receipts and related documentation. Project implementation and NGO selection process “were not compliant with the provisions of COA Circular No. 2007-01 and Government Procurement Policy Board Resolution No. 12-2007, it added.

“There is no evidence showing that respondent Suplico exerted efforts to ensure that Aaron liquidated the P14,700,000.00 which could only mean that he benefitted from the transaction or that he was grossly negligent,” the resolution read.

The Ombudsman added that “[s]uch failure/refusal to liquidate the P14,700,000.00 clearly casts doubt as to the validity, propriety and legality of the transaction between respondents, causing undue injury to the government and giving unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to AARON.”

Aside from Mr. Suplico, TLRC Director General Antonio Ortiz and AARON President Alfredo Ronquillo were also charged as co-accused. — Minde Nyl R. Dela Cruz