MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from service and perpetual disqualification from holding public office of 13 incumbent and former officials – including the chief of staff of former senator Ramon Revilla Jr. – in connection with their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
In a decision signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Jan. 27 but released only yesterday, Revilla’s ex-chief of staff Richard Cambe and 12 others were found guilty of administrative offenses of grave misconduct, dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Also ordered dismissed from the service and perpetually disqualified from holding public office were Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general Dennis Cunanan, TRC chief accountant Marivic Jover and TRC budget officer Consuelo Lilian Espiritu.
Also meted with the same penalties were officials of abolished state firm National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC), namely president Gondelina Amata, division chief Gregoria Buenaventura, directors Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal and Chita Jalandoni, project development officer Sofia Cruz, chief budget specialist Ofelia Ordoñez and staff member Evelyn Sucgang.
National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR) general services supervisor Victor Roman Cacal and administrative and finance head Rhodora Mendoza have also been ordered dismissed and barred from government service.
The ombudsman also ordered the forfeiture of all their retirement benefits.
The administrative offenses stemmed from their alleged involvement in the supposed misuse of P517 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of Revilla for 2007 to 2009 during his term as senator.
The ombudsman said Cambe and the other respondents conspired with Revilla in processing the release of the senator’s PDAF to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) supposedly owned by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
In its ruling, the ombudsman said the releases of Revilla’s PDAF to the Napoles-linked NGOs were done with “extraordinary speed,” which meant that the concerned NABCOR, NLDC and TRC officials did not exercise due diligence in evaluating the supporting documents as well as the NGOs’ qualifications in carrying out the supposed livelihood and agricultural projects. The projects were never implemented.
“In most instances, the disbursement vouchers (DV) were accomplished, signed and approved on the same day. Certainly, the required careful examination of the transaction’s supporting documents could not have taken place if the DV was processed and approved in one day,” the ombudsman said.
Revilla, in an alleged conspiracy with Cambe and other government officials, supposedly received a total of P224.512 million in kickbacks from Napoles.
Cambe is named as co-accused of Revilla and Napoles in a plunder case before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the scam.
He and Revilla are currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame in Quezon City while Napoles is detained at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City.
The concerned TRC, NLDC and NABCOR officials, meanwhile, are facing multiple graft cases before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the pork barrel scam.