Governance, Nation

Lanete, 4 other former House members face plunder and graft

Cbanga360.Net - The Bicol Street Journal

Published         6 Feb , 2015      3:24 am          498 views.

Lanete, 4 other former House members face plunder and graft

The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday filed plunder, graft and malversation charges against five former members of the House of Representatives before the Sandiganbayan over alleged fraudulent transactions involving P339 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” funds.

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Plunder charges were filed against APEC party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez and former Masbate Rep. now Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete.

Prosecutors accused Lanete of pocketing P108.405 million out of the P112.29 million PDAF appropriations received by her office between 2007 to 2009.

Her staff Jose Sumalpong, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and John Raymond De Asis were named co-accused in the plunder case as well as in the additional 11 counts of graft charges.

Valdez was indicted for plunder and seven counts of graft in relation to allegations of converting P57.79 million PDAF for his personal benefit out of the P95 million pork barrel funds channeled to his office from 2007 to 2009.

Napoles and de Asis were named his co-defendants in the plunder case while Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and DBM staff Lalaine Paule, Rosario Nunez, and Marilou Bare were indicted in the graft cases, along with officials of Technology Resource Center, National Livelihood and Development Corp and National Agri-Business Corp.

Former Reps. Samuel Dangwa (Benguet), Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan del Sur) and Constantino Jaraula (Cagayan de Oro City), meanwhile, are facing malversation and multiple counts of graft.

Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said the cases against the three former congressmen did not amount to plunder because the amounts of PDAF involved were less than the threshold of Php50 million as set under RA 7080 or the Plunder Law. Napoles was named co-accused in all of their cases.

Dangwa was accused of mishandling Php42.1 million pork barrel funds and was charged for five counts each of malversation and graft.

Graft investigators found irregularities in Plaza’s PDAF transactions totaling P26.7 million from 2001 to 2010.

He is facing malversation charge, six counts of graft, and five counts of direct bribery.

In the case of Jaraula, prosecutors said there were illegal transactions involving his PDAF allocations totaling Php20.8 million that led to his indictment in one count of malversation, three counts of graft and three counts of direct bribery.

Rafanan said no bail was recommended against Reps. Valdez and Lanete as plunder is a capital offense. (PNA/ Sammy F. Martin)

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