Davao Sur Vice Governor suspended over ‘pork’ scam

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has suspended Davao del Sur Vice Gov. Marc Douglas Cagas IV for alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel during his term as congressman.

In a resolution promulgated on Dec. 3, the anti-graft court ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government to immediately implement the suspension order against Cagas.

The court said the cases filed against Cagas for allleged misuse of his close to P13-million PDAF were sufficient in form and substance.

The law states that an incumbent public official should be suspended if he is charged with a valid offense involving public funds, property or fraud against the government.

The court found no merit in Cagas’ argument that placing him under suspension would no longer serve its purpose of preventing him from tampering with evidence.

Cagas said the prosecution’s documentary evidence had already been pre-marked and made part of the court’s records.

Quoting a Supreme Court ruling, the Sandiganbayan said that unless an accused is suspended, “he may frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of malfeasance or do both.”

Cagas is facing two sets of cases before the Third Division, which all stemmed from the allegedly anomalous utilization of his PDAF when he was representative of the first district of Davao del Sur.

The first set of cases, filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2016, involved two counts of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and two counts of malversation.

The ombudsman said Cagas allocated P7.55 million of his PDAF to fake non-government organizations linked to alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

The ombudsman said Cagas received P5.5 million in commissions from Napoles in exchange for his PDAF allocation.

The second set of cases, filed in March 2017, involved two counts of graft, malversation and one count of the complex crime of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.

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