Ex-Caloocan lawmaker acquitted of ‘pork’ raps

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
Ex-Caloocan lawmaker acquitted of âporkâ raps
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Former Caloocan City 2nd District Rep. Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy has been cleared of graft and malversation charges in connection with the alleged misuse of P10 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel for supposed ghost projects in 2009.

In a 91-page decision promulgated on Nov. 12, the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division said ombudsman prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence to prove Cajayon-Uy’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

“My acquittal is a vindication that I never committed any of the criminal allegations hurled against me. This is a testament that the case against me was nothing but persecution by the former administration directed at known allies of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” Cajayon-Uy said in a statement.

Cajayon-Uy has been acquitted of two counts of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, one count of malversation of public funds under the Revised Penal Code and the complex crime of malversation through falsification of public documents.

Also cleared were former Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary Esperanza Cabral, DSWD undersecretary Mateo Montaño, assistant secretary Vilma Cabrera, assistant director Pacita Sarino and chief accountant Leonila Hayahay as well as private respondent Cenon Mayor, president of the Kaloocan Assistance Council Inc. (KACI).

Filed by the ombudsman in 2018, the cases stemmed from the release of P10 million of Cajayon-Uy’s pork barrel funds to KACI for the supposed implementation of various projects.

The ombudsman said Cajayon-Uy endorsed KACI as “project partner” for the implementation of her PDAF-funded Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services programs.

The projects included funeral, educational, financial, medical and dental assistance, supply of tents, anti-rabies program, fumigation, declogging of drainage, purchase of sports gear, trophies and medals, as well as sponsorships for feasts, sports activities, concerts and dance and singing contests.

Ombudsman prosecutors said the projects were awarded to KACI without public bidding required under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act. The ombudsman said KACI was “unqualified to undertake the projects.”

The ombudsman said its field investigation showed that none of the projects was implemented.

The ombudsman said officials of the DSWD allegedly processed the release of P10 million in pork barrel funds to KACI without verifying its submitted documents and monitoring the actual progress and completion of the projects.

The copy of the anti-graft court’s decision has yet to be posted on the Sandiganbayan website, but the dispositive portion obtained by The STAR stated that the prosecution failed to overturn the presumption of innocence in favor of Cajayon-Uy and her co-defendants.

“When guilt is not proven with moral certainty, it has been our policy of long standing that the presumption of innocence must be favored, and exoneration granted as a matter of right,” the Sandiganbayan decision read.

Cajayon-Uy welcomed the court’s ruling.

“The decision of the Sandiganbayan proves that we have an effective and fair justice system in place,” she said.

“To all government officials, I share this victory with you. Let us continue to uphold our pledge of honest and ethical public service for the people. As long as we perform our duties competently and in accordance with the law, we have nothing to fear. Truth and justice will always prevail,” Cajayon-Uy added.

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