Ombudsman dismisses Revilla aide, GOCC officials involved in PDAF scam

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Ombudsman has dismissed from public service former Sen. Bong Revilla's chief aide Richard Cambe and 12 other officials for their involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

In a Friday statement, the Office of the Ombudsman said Cambe and officials from the Technology Resource Center (TRC), the National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) and the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) were found guilty on Jan. 27 of grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and dishonesty.

The 12 other officials include:

  • TRC Director General Dennis Cunanan
  • TRC Chief Accountant Marivic Jover
  • TRC Budget Officer Consuelo Lilian Espiritu
  • NLDC President Gondelina Amata
  • NLDC Employee Gregoria Buenaventura
  • NLDC Director Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal
  • NLDC Project Development Officer Sofia Cruz
  • LDC Director Chita Jalandoni
  • NLDC Chief Budget Specialist Ofelia Ordoñez
  • NLDC Employee Evelyn Sucgang
  • NABCOR General Services Supervisor Victor Roman Cacal
  • NABCOR Administrative and Finance Head Rhodora Mendoza

The officials are perpetually disqualified from holding public office and lose all their retirement benefits.

Revilla PDAF scam

Cambe and the other officials are also being tried before the Sandiganbayan for their involvement in the anomalous use of Revilla's PDAF from 2006 to 2010.

Related: Revilla plunder case canceled anew

Investigations found that Revilla continuously endorsed the implementation of his PDAF-funded livelihood and agricultural production projects to questionable non-government organizations (NGOs) associated with or controlled by alleged "pork barrel queen" Janet Lim-Napoles.

From 2007 to 2009, a total of ₱517 million was released by the Department of Budget and Management as part of Revilla's PDAF. After the fund release, Revilla identified the NABCOR, NLDC and TRC as the implementing agencies. 

To facilitate the scam, the Ombudsman said Revilla authorized Cambe "to act for him, deal with, and sign documents necessary for the immediate and timely implementation of the PDAF-funded projects."

Several Memoranda of Agreement were likewise signed by Cambe, representing Revilla's office.

Revilla also endorsed five other NGOs as project partners: Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc., Agricultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Inc., Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc., Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc., and Social Development Program for Farmer's Foundation, Inc.

The fund was allegedly used to buy farming equipment and supplies, but the Ombudsman found that no deliveries were made to the supposed beneficiaries. 

Mayors and municipal agriculturists also denied receiving any of the items from Revilla's office, the implementing agencies or any of the NGOs.

In addition, the Commission on Audit found:

  • The NGOs that received the multi-million-peso PDAF releases did not have the track record to implement the projects
  • The selection of the NGOs, as well as the alleged procurement of goods for distribution of beneficiaries, did not undergo public bidding
  • The suppliers denied dealing with any of the NGOs
  • The reported beneficiaries were unknown or could not be located at their given addresses

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said in her decision that whistleblowers testified that "Revilla received total commissions, rebates or kickbacks amounting to at least P224,512,500."

Morales also highlighted "the extraordinary speed attendant to the examination, processing and approval by the concerned NABCOR, NLDC and TRC officers of the PDAF releases to the Napoles-affiliated or controlled NGOs."

According to Morales, the fact that the disbursement vouchers (DV) were made and approved on the same day was suspicious.

"Certainly, the required careful examination of the transaction's supporting documents could not have taken place if the DV was processed and approved in one day," she said.