[NEWS] (05/15/17) Sajid Ampatuan faces 36 more charges over P16.3-M food scam

Sajid Ampatuan faces 36 more charges over P16.3-M food scam
Vince F. Nonato

Former Maguindanao officer-in-charge governor Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan is facing 36 more corruption charges at the Sandiganbayan, on top of the 161 already filed in April.

This time, the Office of the Ombudsman formally charged Ampatuan and six others over the release of P16,317,559 to a food supplier, Henry Merchandising, which turned out to be “fictitious and/or nonexistent.”

This brings to 197 the total number of charges filed over the past two months against Ampatuan, a prime suspect in the Maguindanao Massacre who is out on bail.

Prosecutors accused Ampatuan of conspiring with provincial officials to “appropriate for themselves” the said public funds from Feb. 2, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2009.

Continue reading “[NEWS] (05/15/17) Sajid Ampatuan faces 36 more charges over P16.3-M food scam”

[NEWS] (05/09/17) Sandiganbayan thumbs down Binay worry over travel arraignment

Sandiganbayan thumbs down Binay worry over travel arraignment
Vince F. Nonato

The Sandiganbayan has denied the plea of former Vice-President Jejomar Binay to modify the standard terms of his conditional arraignment for his upcoming pilgrimage in the Holy Land. 

In an eight-page resolution on Monday, the Third Division rejected Binay’s fear that accepting the standard conditions would make him lose his rights and legal remedies later on.  

As a precondition for permission to go to Israel from May 15 to 29, Binay would have to be conditionally arraigned on Wednesday afternoon under the usual terms imposed on defendants traveling abroad. 

The antigraft court usually requires conditional arraignment before granting travel authority to an accused who has yet to be formally arraigned. This serves as an assurance that he could be tried in absentia in case he fails to return to the country. 

Binay’s camp plans to file a motion to quash the charges if the Supreme Court grants his petition challenging the validity of the Ombudsman’s investigation, which was held when he was still a vice-president immune from suit. But, such a remedy has to be filed before regular arraignment. 
Continue reading “[NEWS] (05/09/17) Sandiganbayan thumbs down Binay worry over travel arraignment”

[NEWS] 3/31/17: Blueboy gets 12 years for graft; Degamo and Reyes seek dismissal of charges over Ombudsman delays

Blueboy gets 12 to 20 years for graft
Vince F. Nonato
The Sandiganbayan has sentenced former Angeles City Mayor Francis “Blueboy” Nepomuceno to at least 12 years’ imprisonment for the unlawful donation of a city-owned service vehicle to a non-government organization in 2010.
The antigraft court’s Fourth Division found Nepomuceno guilty of one count each of violating Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for giving unwarranted benefits to a private party and for binding the government into a disadvantageous contract.
Nepomuceno and one private individual, Kapanalig Angeles City, Inc. president Abelardo Pamintuan Jr., were each meted prison terms of at least 12 years and two months to a maximum of 20 years arising from the two criminal convictions.
The verdict arose from the June 8, 2010 donation of a Mitsubishi Adventure GLS 2.5 vehicle with the plate number SHL 124 and acquisition cost of P786,000. Because Kapanalig was not a government entity, state prosecutors questioned the donation for violating the Local Government Code.

Continue reading “[NEWS] 3/31/17: Blueboy gets 12 years for graft; Degamo and Reyes seek dismissal of charges over Ombudsman delays”

[NEWS] 3/21/17: Hagedorn charged over undeclared assets

Hagedorn charged over undeclared assets
Vince F. Nonato
Former Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn has been formally charged at the Sandiganbayan over his alleged undeclared wealth.
The Office of the Ombudsman charged Hagedorn with nine counts each of perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code and violations of Section 7 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and Section 8 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Hagedorn is accused of making false representations in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth for the years 2004 to 2012.
He allegedly failed to declare numerous properties and business interests in his asset disclosures during nine straight years when he was city mayor.
The allegedly undeclared properties include a total of 59 properties with a total area of 132.57 hectares (1.3 million square meters).

Continue reading “[NEWS] 3/21/17: Hagedorn charged over undeclared assets”

[NEWS] 03/14/17: Militants appeal Ombudsman decision ‘shielding’ Aquino in DAP case

Militants appeal DAP decision that ‘shielded’ Aquino
Vince F. Nonato
Progressive activists have filed an appeal on the Ombudsman’s decision that “attempted to shield” former President Benigno Aquino III from liability over the outlawed Disbursement Acceleration Program.
Such was the “attempt to shield” Aquino that the March 3 resolution barely explained why Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales let him off the hook and only indicted his Budget Secretary Florencio Abad for usurpation of legislative powers.
Besides this observation, activists led by Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate also pointed out that the Ombudsman ignored Aquino’s own issuances, made logical errors, and misapplied Supreme Court rulings in order to clear him of the offenses of technical malversation and graft.
In a strongly-worded 17-page motion for reconsideration filed by the National Union of People’s Lawyers on Monday, the activists said Abad could not have been the only official liable for usurpation of Congress’ powers.
While the Ombudsman resolution found Abad’s National Budget Circular 541 to have illegally redefined “savings” under the General Appropriations Act in July 2012, the appeal noted that Aquino’s prior issuances were swept under the rug.
The complainants pointed out that Aquino himself approved DAP in October 2011, as well as Abad’s request for authority to withdraw and pool the unutilized funds for the first half of 2012.
They noted that Abad’s NBC 541 merely confirmed Aquino’s prior actions and he could not have issued it without the president’s approval.
“Glaring is the lack of mention with respect to Aquino,” the motion read. “The Decision, in its attempt to shield Aquino mentioned only NBC 541 apparently as the only document/act which ‘unduly modified, expanded the meaning of savings under the GAA.'”
‘Idiots until proven otherwise’
The activists also took exception to the Ombudsman’s finding that Aquino and Abad were in good faith and could not be held liable for graft.
They maintained that the officials knowingly caused undue injury to the government by curtailing the agencies’ spending power through the premature declaration of unused funds as “savings.”
“With due respect, Complainants cannot subscribe to the Decision’s apparent perspective pertaining the duties and responsibilities of our public officials, that is, they are stupid or idiots until proven otherwise,” the motion read.
“The Preisdent and his alter egos are thus presumed, like ordinary people, to know the law, and as such ignorance, feigned or otherwise, is not an excuse,” it added.
The complainants also noted the Ombudsman’s logical “flaw” in dismissing the technical malversation charge.
The Ombudsman held that Aquino and Abad were just the “policy-makers” and they did not directly misapply the funds for other purposes.
But, the complainants still deemed them liable as the “clear masterminds/authors” who directed the diversion of funds.
The complainants also disagreed with the Ombudsman’s pronouncement that the premature declaration of “savings” does not itself consummate the violation of the law.
The appeal also chided the Ombudsman for sidestepping the issue of whether the DAP funds were used for purposes other than those they were appropriated for.
For the complainants, the Supreme Court’s July 2014 and February 2015 are already sufficient bases for such a finding.
In a press statement, Zarate insisted that “the main person who carried out the crime should not have been spared from punishment.”
“Otherwise, there’s no use to this case. It will only further the state of impunity  in the budget system our government,” he said.
The Supreme Court in 2014 declared that certain budgetary practices under DAP as unconstitutional. These include the cross-border transfer of funds and the declaration of savings before the end of the fiscal year in order to realign them for items not contained in the budget law passed by Congress. #

[INFOGRAPHICS] P1.53-billion Malampaya fund misuse

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported the filing of the graft cases against former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, but constituents interested in the nitty-gritty of how public money was allegedly misused would be interested in the following tables listing the incomplete projects tainted by irregularities.

I also made the map above, to better visualize which towns have been affected by contracts with allegedly anomalous implementation.

Check out the following tables for more details regarding the alleged misuse of P1.53-billion in Malampaya funds.

Continue reading “[INFOGRAPHICS] P1.53-billion Malampaya fund misuse”

[NEWS] 02/05/17: Cases vs Falcons quashed over delays; Zambales mayor charged for refusing to permit miners; Parojinogs face graft trial


The Sandiganbayan has thrown out the graft charges against former Surigao del Sur 2nd District Reps. Jesnar and Peter Paul Jed Falcon over unreasonable delays on the part of the Office of the Ombudsman. State prosecutors have formally charged a Zambales mayor before the Sandiganbayan for refusing to issue a business permit to two mining firms in 2011, even as they complied with the requirements. Lastly, the Sandiganbayan has found probable cause to go ahead with the graft trial of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, Sr., and Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog.

Continue reading “[NEWS] 02/05/17: Cases vs Falcons quashed over delays; Zambales mayor charged for refusing to permit miners; Parojinogs face graft trial”