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Senate probe on Malampaya fund anomalies sought

A resolution has been filed seeking a probe into billions of pesos worth of anomalous disbursements of Malampaya funds under the past two administrations.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed with the Sandiganbayan 97 counts of graft and malversation cases against two former Cabinet officials of the Arroyo administration, detained businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and socialite Ruby Tuason over the alleged P900-million Malampaya fund scam. This already constitutres plunder, yet the Obudsman downgraded the charegs to graft.
The Ombudsman charged former Budget chief and incumbent Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. and former Agrarian Reform secretary and now Masui City, Lanao del Sur Mayor Nasser Pangandaman of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.

The respondents are accused of diverting P900 million from the Malampaya fund allocated by DBM to DAR between 2009 to 2010 and in the process using 12 Napoles-led non-government organizations as conduits to the fraud.
Andaya allegedly approved the request of DAR and signed the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) and Notice of Cash Allocation requested by Pangandaman even prior to the review of the DBM’s budget and management bureau.
According to the charge sheet, Pangandaman provided the P900 million without validating the regularity and legality of the claim or obligation in exchange of receiving commissions from Napoles.
Napoles, meanwhile, allegedly used her NGOs for the implementation of ghost and non-existent projects while her children, brother, and former bodyguard forged signatures and fabricated documents to conceal the fictitious nature of the transaction.
Aside from them, also facing charges are then-DBM Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, DAR Undersecretary Narciso Nieto and Director Teresita Panlilio; former Candaba, Pampanga mayor Rene Maglanque; Ruby Tuason, Jo Christine Napoles, James Christopher Napoles, Reynald Lim, Evelyn De Leon, Ronald Francisco Lim, Ronald John Lim, Eulogio Rodriguez, Simplicio Gumafelix, John Raymund De Asis, Rodrigo Galay, Alejandro Garro, Paquito Dinso, Jr., Gerald Apuang, Napoleon Sibayan, Winnie Villanueva, Angelita Cacananta, and Ronald Venancio.
The case has not moved after the announced filing of charges by teh Ombudsman.
Last year, the Sandiganbayan cleared Arroyo, former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita, and former DAR officials Dominador Sison and Nilda Baui in connection with the scam.
The Ombudsman had earlier ordered the filing of plunder charges against the respondents. It, however, partially granted their motions for reconsideration which downgraded the case to graft and malversation on Sept. 5.
Under Senate Resolution No. 579, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he believes an inquiry is needed to “hold erring public officers responsible for the irregular release of these funds.”
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on energy, also said that the probe would help prevent future illegal exploitation of these funds meant to finance the development of energy resources.
“Their usage for other purposes, and without following the clear procedural requirements concerning their disbursement is a serious cause for concern that must be looked into by the government,” Gatchalian said in filing his resolution.
In his resolution, Gatchalian directed the appropriate Senate committee to conduct an inquiry “on the release of the Malampaya Funds by the Department of Budget and Management without complete documentary requirements in violation of Presidential Decree No. 910 Series of 1976, Executive Order No. 683 Series of 2007, DBM-DOE-DOF Joint Circular No. 3 Series of 2008, and other relevant laws and rules and regulations as specified in the Commission on Audit’s Special Report No. 2017-04.”
The Malampaya Fund holds the government’s profit share from the exploitation of natural gas resources in the Camago-Malampaya Reservoir.
It has accumulated P173.280 billion from the operations between 2002 until 2013.
These funds were collected by the Department of Energy for the exploration and development of energy resources. In 2007. The DBM was authorized to release money from the fund.

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