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7 ex-PGMA men charged over Malampaya scam

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman filed 194 criminal cases against two former Cabinet secretaries and five other former officials of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her presidency for their roles in the P900-million Malampaya Fund scam.

In 1,164 pages of charge sheets, former budget secretary and incumbent Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. and former agrarian reform secretary and incumbent Masiu, Lanao del Sur Mayor Nasser Pangandaman Jr. were each accused of 97 counts of graft and 97 counts of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.

Also charged were former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) undersecretary Mario Relampagos and former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) undersecretary Narciso Nieto, director Teresita Panlilio, chief accountant Angelita Cacananta and chief administrative officer Ronald Venancio.

Businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, was also named as respondent in all 194 cases.

Her children Jo Christine and James Christopher were charged similarly, as well as respondent brothers Reynald and Ronald Francisco Lim, nephew Ronald John Lim and driver/bodyguard John Raymund de Asis. 

Also named respondents in all the cases were pork barrel scam whistle-blower Ruby Tuason, former Candaba mayor Rene Maglanque, Evelyn de Leon, Eulogio Rodriguez, Simplicio Gumafelix, Rodrigo Galay, Alejandro Garro, Paquito Dinso Jr., Gerald Apuang, Napoleon Sibayan and Winnie Villanueva.

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Although the cases were filed by the ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan on Dec. 1, copies of the charge sheets were only made available to the media yesterday.

The cases stemmed from Executive Order 848 signed by Arroyo in 2009 to allocate P900 million of the government’s income from the Malampaya natural gas project to the victims of Tropical Storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng, which hit the country late that year.

However, a Senate investigation found that the funds did not reach the intended beneficiaries but were instead allocated to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs).

In its ruling, the ombudsman cleared Arroyo and executive secretary Eduardo Ermita of any liability in the alleged fund misuse even if the two were included in the original complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). 

The ombudsman said the signing of the EO was done in “good faith” and in accordance with Section 8 of Presidential Decree 910.    – With Jess Diaz

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