MUST READ :Gringo, Jinggoy under investigation for P220-M DAR scam

The Office of the Ombudsman is conducting a preliminary investigation regarding the alleged involvement of Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II and former senator Jinggoy Estrada in the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) scam involving P220-million worth of “ghost projects.” In a statement released Friday (August 26), the Ombudsman said its field investigation showed that the DAR set aside P220 million in 2010 to 2011 for livelihood and training projects for farmers in 27 municipalities in the provinces of Isabela, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Ilocos Norte, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Quezon, Batangas, and Pangasinan.

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Of the P220 million, P20 million came from the 2010 DAR regular fund released upon Honasan’s request; P100 million came from his 2011 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the remaining P100 million sourced from the regular fund for 2011, P50 million of which was released upon the request of Estrada and the other P50 million for projects endorsed by DAR Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan. The P220 million remains unliquidated despite several Notices of Disallowance from the Commission on Audit due to the non-existence of the projects.

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Under the DAR project, each municipality was supposed to receive funds ranging from P5 to P10 million with 13 non-government organizations (NGOs) tasked to implement the programs. Actual field verification, however, showed that none of the projects were implemented as they were “ghost projects.”

Documents also showed there was a deliberate or extensive use of falsified documents and forged signatures in order to fully document, substantiate and justify the disbursement and utilization of the P220 million. Based on the results of the field investigation, the Ombudsman is looking at Honasan and Estrada’s possible violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Malversation through Falsification of Public Documents.

The two politikos are already facing criminal charges in connection with the PDAF scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles. Also included in the preliminary investigation as respondents are former DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes, former Bulacan Rep. Arturo Robes, former DAR Undersecretaries Narciso Nieto and Jerry Pacturan; DBM Undersecretary Mario Relampagos; DAR employees, Ronald Venancio and Rowena Agbayani; Napoles; NGO representatives, namely: Evelyn De Leon, John Raymond De Asis, Mylene Encarnacion, Simplicio Gumafelix, Eulogio Rodriguez, Evelyn Miranda, Perfecto Jaime Tagalog, Remo Bana, Michelle Imperial, Richard Tubiera, Lyngie Tubiera, Melinda Calagui, Ronald John Lim, Jr.; notaries public Atty. Donato Manguiat, Atty. Editha Talaboc, Atty. Mark Oliveros, Atty. Raymond Gerardo Tansip; Florida Robes, spouse of respondent Robes; Estrada staff member Pauline Therese Labayen; and a certain Rodrigo Galay.

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Delos Reyes, Pacturan, Relampagos, Panlilio, Venancio and Agbayani are also facing administrative adjudication proceedings for Grave Misconduct, Gross Neglect of Duty, Serious Dishonesty and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.

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