2 SAROs show Jinggoy’s PDAF went to bogus groups – witness

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A prosecution witness testified yesterday that she has in her custody two Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) pertaining to the allocation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada to bogus foundations.

One SARO allegedly involved P20 million worth of Estrada’s PDAF and another P30 million, Marissa Santos, chief administrative officer of Department of Budget and Management’s Central Records Division, said in her testimony during Estrada’s bail hearing before the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division.

Santos was the prosecution’s last witness and her testimony formally ended its presentation of evidence.

The prosecution and the defense have agreed that no direct examination and cross-examination will be made on Santos.

Defense lawyer Paul Mar Arias cited “lack of material time.”

Santos will reportedly be subjected to cross-examination during the trial proper.

Justices gave the prosecution 10 days to submit a written formal offer of evidence and five days for the defense to comment.

The Fifth Division has been hearing Estrada’s bail petition since July last year.      

The prosecution presented as witnesses whistle-blowers Benhur Luy, Merlina Suñas, Marina Sula and Ruby Tuason, Orlando Negradas from the Anti-Money Laundering Council and National Bureau of Investigation computer forensic expert Dario Sabilano. 

Estrada is detained in Camp Crame.

No evidence presented vs Enrile

Prosecutors have yet to present evidence that Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile had received kickbacks from the PDAF scam.

“None as of this moment, for the purposes of this bail hearing,” state prosecutor Edwin Gomez told justices of the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division.

No evidence pointing to the 91-year- old lawmaker has been presented   because the hearings so far have centered on the petition for bail of Janet Lim-Napoles, prosecutors said.

Gomez answered “yes” when Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang asked if Enrile should be cleared of the plunder charges if the prosecution will “fail to establish that the money went to (him).”

However, Enrile would still be held liable for giving his PDAF to bogus NGOs implementing fictitious projects even if the kickbacks allegedly amounting to P172.8 million did not really go to him, he added.

Enrile must be prosecuted for his “necessary actions or cooperation” that allowed the scam to happen, Go zez said.

The Sandiganbayan officially terminated the bail hearings of Napoles yesterday after oral summations and a month after prosecutors terminated their presentation of evidence.

State witness Ruby Tuason was the last to testify against Napoles.

She claimed to have delivered the kickbacks supposedly intended for Enrile, although she testified that she only met his chief of staff, Jessica Reyes, and gave the money to her.

The petition for bail of Napoles, who is serving time for serious illegal detention, is now deemed submitted for decision, Third Division justices said.

The Supreme Court has allowed Enrile to post bail, reversing the anti-graft court’s denial of his motion for temporary liberty. 

NGO denies part in new scam

A non-government organization has denied any link to the allegations against San Jose del Monte, Bulacan Rep. Arturo Robes involving a new

P500-million PDAF scam being investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman.

In a statement yesterday, Chrisgene Castillo, lawyer of Workphil Foundation Inc., belied the claim of whistle-blower Bernadette Ricalde that Robes had used them in pocketing his PDAF.

“Contrary to the false accusations of Bernadette Ricalde, Workphil is neither owned by, nor connected with, the spouses Congressman Arthur Robes and Rida Robes,” she said.

It was actually Ricalde who had put up the NGO, Castillo said. 

“It is a foundation that was originally formed and established through the initiative of Bernadette, who personally and solely prepared, accomplished and facilitated the  completion and submission of the incorporation requirements and documents of Workphil with the Securities and Exchange Commission,” she said.

“The only participation of her fellow incorporators then was to affix their signatures as incorporators and temporary trustees and officers of the foundation.

They were assured by Bernadette that they will not be shelling out any cash for the initial capitalization since the funds will be sourced out by Bernadette through donations and loans.”

From the time the documentary requirements for the incorporation of Workphil were prepared up to the time that she left sometime during the first quarter of 2012, Ricalde was in charge of the overall management and administration of the foundation, its activities and projects, including its day-to-day affairs, Castillo said.

Ricalde maintained custody and safekeeping of all corporate records, billings, vouchers, checkbooks and bank passbooks, and copies of bank-stamped withdrawal slips, and received cash and encashed checks received from benefactor agencies, she added. Rhodina Villanueva, Michael Punongbayan, Edu Punay














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