DAR Sacks Officials For Malampaya Fiasco

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news national 1 pix 1 jan.13 2017QUEZON CITY, Jan. 13 – Agrarian reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano has complied with the Ombudsman decision, dated December 19, 2016, ordering the immediate dismissal of its two officials who were found guilty of grave misconduct.

In a memorandum signed by Mariano last December 27, Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) Officer-in-charge Director Teresita Panlilio and Chief Administrative Officer Ronald Venancio were dismissed based on their participation in the anomalous use of the P900-million Malampaya Fund for the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in 2009.
The Malampaya Fund was created to finance the energy resource exploration and extraction projects of the government off the waters of Palawan in 2002. Seven years after, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo authorized the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to use the money for relief operations and rehabilitation due to back-to-back typhoons in 2009.

According to the Ombudsman decision, the DAR, purportedly complying with almost 100 financial requests of municipal mayors, asked the DBM for the release of the P900-million fund to provide direct assistance to farmer beneficiaries who were victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

However, findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) reveal that such requests were not submitted by the Mayors but by the non-government organizations linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.

The funds were transferred to these NGOs without public bidding, thus violating Republic Act No. 9184 and the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) Resolution No. 12-2007.

The two DAR officials faced two counts of plunder, and multiple graft and malversation charges before being found responsible for the diversion of the discretionary funds. The decision states that the ‘funds in question could not have been transferred to Napoles’ NGOs without their certifications, signatures and approvals in the obligation slips and checks.’

Both Panlilio and Venancio are now barred from holding public office and taking civil service examinations, and will not receive their retirement benefits as punishment for their actions.