Ombudsman fires 5 NCMF officials in PDAF scam

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 June) – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has affirmed the dismissal and perpetual disqualification from public office of five officials of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) for their alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

In a decision issued on June 19, the NCMF officials were identified as Secretary/ Commissioner Mehol Sadain, Director III Galay Makalinggan, Acting Chief Accountant Fedelina Aldanese, Acting Chief Aurora Aragon-Mabang, and Cashier Olga Galido.

The Ombudsman found them guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The decision imposed a fine equivalent to a respondent’s one-year salary in case of separation from public office.

It said the involved officials are also facing trial before the Sandiganbayan for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for the anomalous use of P3.8 million from the PDAF of former Maguindanao representative Simeon Datumanong, who died in February 2017.

In an investigation, it said that the Ombudsman found out that the Department of Budget and Management issued in May 2012 a Special Allotment Release Order in favor of NCMF from the late lawmaker’s PDAF as the implementing agency of the livelihood programs such as soap making, candle making and meat-processing for the municipalities of Mamasapano, Ampatuan and Datu Abdullah Sanki in Maguindanao.

It said the late lawmaker requested the funds be coursed through non-government organization Maharlikang Lipi Foundation, Inc. (MLFI) through a memorandum of agreement.

However, it said the Commission on Audit (COA) found that “the selection of the NGO was undertaken in violation of COA Circular No. 2007-01 noting the absence of public bidding in the NGO selection process. “

Citing Ombudsman Morales, it said that the respondents were proven to have a participation in the “preparation and execution of the MOA on the implementation of Datumanong’s PDAF-funded projects covered by the SARO.”

The Ombudsman added that “respondents miserably failed to measure up to the procurement policy standards when they failed to strictly comply with the Government Procurement Reform Act.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)