SouthCot’s Pingoy says he’s ready to ‘face the music’ re pork barrel charges

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 4 Dec) – Former South Cotabato governor and second district Rep. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said Wednesday he is ready to “face the music” over the malversation, direct bribery and graft charges filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with his alleged involvement in the multi-billion pork barrel scam.

Pingoy, who has returned to private life after his failed reelection bid for governor in the local and national midterm elections last May, maintained his innocence over the charges and claimed that he has no direct knowledge of the supposed fraudulent transactions involving his congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

The former lawmaker was charged last week before the Office of the Ombudsman for supposedly channeling some P7.5 million of his PDAF to a fake or bogus foundation set up by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

He was among the 34 individuals, including seven former congressmen, who comprised the second batch of respondents in criminal cases – including plunder – filed by the DOJ, through the National Bureau of Investigation, in connection with the pork barrel scam.

Pingoy, who represented the province’s second congressional district at the House of Representatives for three straight terms or from 2001 to 2010, said he was charged for allocating funds to a foundation that turned out to have been set up by former Napoles staff member and now whistle blower Benhur Luy.

But he denied personally knowing Napoles, who is presently detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, and any of her former staff members, including Luy.

“I don’t know her (Napoles)… I haven’t seen him (Luy) before,” he said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.

Pingoy acknowledged that the accusations, specifically the charges at the Office of the Ombudsman, are serious but he is determined to clear his name.

“I have to face the music. I will face it and I will answer all charges at the proper forum. And I will probably do that at the Ombudsman,” he said.

The other former congressmen who were named as respondents were resigned Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon of Muntinlupa City, Salacnib Baterina of Ilocos Sur, Douglas Cagas and Marc Douglas Cagas IV of Davao del Sur, Arrel Olano of Davao del Norte and Rodolfo Valencia of Oriental Mindoro.

Also named respondent was Energy Regulatory Commission chair Zenaida Cruz-Ducut, who had served as Pampanga congresswoman.

Based on the complaint, Ducut, along with Celia Cuasay, reportedly acted as representative of the lawmakers.

Ducut reportedly acted as the agent of Baterina, Biazon, Douglas Cagas and his son Marc Douglas, and Pingoy. Cuasay acted as agent of Valencia.

Meantime, South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, a former ally-turned bitter rival of Pingoy, called the matter as “very unfortunate” but refused to issue any comment against the former lawmaker.

Fuentes, who replaced Pingoy at the House of Representatives for a single term before returning to the provincial capitol last July 1, said she is confident that nothing irregular had ensued as to the disbursement of her PDAF.

She said her office and staff members had no direct involvement then in any transaction involving the allocation and disbursement of her PDAF.

“For example, in our computerization project, we just received the units and released them to the beneficiaries. We had no idea how the purchases were made because we’re not involved in them,” the governor added.