By Jun Ramirez
The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal and permanent disqualification from holding public office of five executives of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) as it continues its investigation into the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales identified those found guilty of alleged grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service as NCMF Commissioner Mehol Sadain, Director Galay Makalinggan, Fedelina Aldanese, and Aurora Aragon-Mabang who are both accountants, and Olga Galido, cashier.
In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondent’s one year salary.
The same NCMF officials are also facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan for alleged anomalous utilization of the PDAF of former Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong.
Anti-graft probers uncovered that in May 2001, some P3.8 million in favor of NCMF was released, as implementing agency, and charged against Rep. Datumanong’s PDAF.
The money was intended to finance livelihood programs such as soap making, candle making and meat processing for the municipalities of Mamasapano, Ampatuan, and Datu Abdullah Sanki.
To facilitate the fund utilization, Datumanong requested that the fund be coursed through the Maharlikang Lipi Foundation, Inc. (MLFI) as NGO-partner.
Upon audit, the Commission on Audit found that the selection of the NGO was without public bidding, a violation of COA Circular No. 2007-01.
In her resolution, Ombudsman Morales ruled that “respondents participated in the preparation, processing and approval of the memorandum of Agreement and the PDAF documents governing the project implementation and fund releases to MLFI.”
She added that “the funds in question could not have been transferred to the MLFI if not for the recommendations as well as certifications, approval, and signatures found in the corresponding disbursement vouchers and checks.”
To support the charges, the Ombudsman said that there was “extraordinary accommodation extended to MLFI in the examination, processing, and approval by the concerned NCMF officers of the PDAF releases as shown by the unnumbered and undated disbursement vouchers.”
This is the second set of PDAF charges filed against Sadain. In September, 2016, Sadain was charged along with Senator Gregorio Honasan II for the alleged anomalous utilization of the latter’s P30-million PDAF.