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Ex-Iloilo solon to be indicted for 'pork' misuse.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the indictment of former Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., an ally of former President Benigno Aquino III, for allegedly spending P4.8 million in pork barrel funds on 'ghost projects' in 2008.

Morales said Tupas made it appear that the projects were implemented by signing fictitious lists of beneficiaries of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). He denied the allegation, saying his signature was forged.

Tupas, a Liberal Party stalwart who led the prosecution in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, faces two counts of violating the antigraft law, one count of malversation and one count of malversation through falsification.

'To be able to repeatedly release substantial funds from the PDAF, access thereto must be made available, and this was made possible by Tupas Jr. who directly chose and endorsed his own NGO (nongovernment organization) to implement his PDAF-related projects,' Morales said in her resolution ordering his indictment.

Morales was referring to the Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation, Inc. (KKAMFI) chosen by Tupas as partner in the projects.

According to Morales, Tupas and officials of the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), the implementor of the projects, fabricated supporting documents for the funds, which were supposed to be used to buy hand tractors, water pumps and grafted fruit seedlings.

Investigators said the supposed recipients-the mayors of the municipalities of Ajuy, Batad, Estancia, Lemery, San Rafael and Sara in eastern Iloilo province-denied receiving the farm equipment and seedlings. Investigators found the liquidation documents were 'all fabricated.'

Also charged as Tupas' coconspirators in this 'nefarious scheme' were Nabcor officials Alan Javellana, Rhodora Mendoza, Romulo Relevo, Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson and KKAMFI project coordinator Marilou Antonio.

In a text message to reporters, Tupas said he would appeal the Ombudsman's resolution.

Tupas said he was 'very surprised' because he reported to the Commission on Audit, the Ombudsman and other concerned agencies the 'spurious documents' that allegedly contained his forged signature used to facilitate the release of the funds.

He said he had asked the concerned agencies to stop the release of the funds, some of which were later returned to the national treasury.

'I hope the Ombudsman will see the light,' he said.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jul 21, 2017
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