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QC Rep. Crisologo faces 'pork' raps

The ombudsman said listed beneficiaries of the death/burial assistance denied receiving cash grants from Crisologo's office and that the signatures appearing on the vouchers were not theirs. File photo
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of multiple criminal cases against Rep. Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo (Quezon City) over the alleged misuse of P8 million worth of his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel in 2009.
 
Crisologo, a deputy majority leader in the House of Representatives and who represents Quezon City's First District, was ordered charged by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales before the Sandiganbayan with two counts of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and another two counts of malversation of public funds under the Revised Penal Code.
 
Crisologo was also ordered charged with two counts of the complex crime of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents also under the RPC.
 
Ordered charged with Crisolo were former officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, including its former secretary Esperanza Cabral, undersecretaries Mateo Montaño, and Lualhati Pablo, assistant secretary Vilma Cabrera, chief accountant Leonila Hayahay and assistant director Pacita Sarino.
 
Cenon Mayor of non-government organization Kaloocan Assistance Council, Inc. (KACI) was also ordered charged with the public officials.
 
The ombudsman said investigation conducted by its Task Force PDAF found that Crisologo personally endorsed KACI as the implementer of his PDAF-funded Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS) project.
 
The project supposedly included several social assistance for his constituents such as medical/hospitalization expenses, transportation, calamity, death, burial and educational expenses, small-scale livelihood training, socio-cultural expenses, small-scale infrastructure assistance and values training.
 
Ombudsman's records show that a total of P8 million, drawn from Crisologo's PDAF, was released by the Department of Budget and Management to DSWD in 2009 as it was his chosen partner agency for the implementation of his supposed CIDSS project.
 
However, upon field verification by Task Force PDAF, the ombudsman said it was found that none of the supposed social services under the project reached the intended beneficiaries.
 
The ombudsman said KACI instead submitted falsified receipts and other supporting documents. The ombudsman further said most of the listed beneficiaries of financial assistance were “coordinators and political supporters of Crisologo”.
 
The ombudsman said listed beneficiaries of the death/burial assistance denied receiving cash grants from Crisologo's office and that the signatures appearing on the vouchers were not theirs.
 
Meanwhile, representatives from the National Children’s Hospital also attested that no free medical or dental mission was conducted in October 2009, contrary to claims of the respondents, the ombudsman said.
 
Furthermore, the ombudsman said a background check with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Quezon City Business Permit and Licensing Office revealed that KACI’s main supplier for the project, Silver A Enterprises, is not a registered business entity.
 
The ombudsman said Crisologo's failure to ensure that his PDAF fund received by KACI was properly liquidated, “could only mean that he benefited from the transaction or that he was grossly negligent.”
 
“Crisologo is, after all, accountable for the funds because he has control, if not actual custody of the funds, as these funds cannot be released without his consent and directives,” the ombudsman's resolution read.
 
“Crisologo treated his PDAF as if it were his own funds, dictating how it should be utilized and released. He not only identified the project, implementing agency and NGO, but also determined how much of his PDAF should go to the projects, or in this case, KACI,” it added.
 
The ombudsman said the concerned DSWD officials must be held accountable with Crisologo as they “did not even bother to conduct a due diligence audit on KACI and its suppliers” before releasing the payment.
 
“Instead, they accepted the sole representation of congressman Crisologo and KACI to undertake the projects in contravention of existing procurement laws and regulations,” the ombudsman said.
 
From the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, Crisologo jumped to the administration's political party Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) after the May 2016 elections to be part of the “supermajority” in the House.
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