Ombudsman sharpens tools vs pork barrel
Anti-graft investigators in the Visayas had a seminar yesterday on how to detect irregularities in use of lawmakers’ pork barrel.
Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol said they want to equip their investigators with the knowledge and skills in investigating the legislators’ release of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
“We need to have a uniform action on investigating the pork barrel controversy. The investigators should have the killer instinct so those who actually committed an irregularity will eventually be held liable,” he said.
Apostol said they will conduct an ocular inspection to determine the existence of associations and non-government organizations where the PDAF of legislators have been coursed through.
“Let’s see whether these associations are existing or not. As of now, our investigation tells us that there are some that are not existing,” he said.
The Ombudsman Visayas is investigating at least four cases on the alleged misuse of the PDAF.
One involves the controversial release of P14.7 million from former Cebu City south district congressman Antonio Cuenco’s PDAF which was channeled to Guadalupe barangay captain Eugenio “Jinjing” Faelnar for the purchase of seedlings and the construction of a goat house.
Another case which likewise involves Cuenco’s PDAF is also under investigation by the Ombudsman.
The case involved “ghost purchases” of medicines for the poor coursed through the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, forged prescriptions and fake beneficiaries referred to the government hospital.
Cuenco is not impleaded in the case although his son James, an incumbent Cebu city councilor and two former personnel of the “Tony and Tommy” health services program, were implicated in the alleged conspiracy.
The COA and Ombudsman held liable retired VSMMC chief Filomena Delos Santos; former chief administrative office Josefa Bacaltos; chief of pharmacy Nelanie Antoni; and hospital accountant Maureen Bien for the loss of funds.
Apostol refused to reveal the names of the other legislators who are under investigation due to the PDAF issue.
He said all their findings on the PDAF issue will be submitted to their central office in Manila.
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