Ex-NABCOR officials detail agri fund scam

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2014 07:02 PM | Updated as of Mar 26 2014 09:35 AM

MANILA (UPDATED) - Former National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) executives Rhodora Mendoza and Victor Cacal have "discovered" that over P5 billion worth of agriculture funds released through the agency were misused during the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the predecessor of President Benigno Aquino III.

The two, who happen to be respondents in the plunder cases filed with the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, bared these other alleged fund anomalies in a meeting with Justice Secretary Leila De Lima on Tuesday.

Atty. Levito Baligod, the private complainant in the PDAF scam cases and now counsel for Mendoza and Cacal, told journalists that the alleged fund misuse covered 9 non-PDAF projects and/or special funds.

These include the Ginuntuang Masaganang Ani, LEDP, post-harvest facilities, Agricultural Competitive Enhancement Fund (ACEF), and barangay food terminal projects, Baligod said.

Asked on the nature of the fund misuse, De Lima said these involved double-pricing, and questionable technical studies where the funds went to the pockets of certain officials instead of the so-called commissioned NGOs that "did" the legwork, among others.    

Mendoza and Cacal have, so far, executed sworn statements on the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) fund misuse, totalling P300 million, and submitted these affidavits to De Lima in Tuesday's meeting.

They have yet to detail their supposed knowledge on the allegedly anomalous 8 other deals and projects.

Baligod said Mendoza and Cacal's latest affidavits mentioned officials from NABCOR and the DA who may possibly be held liable for the alleged misuse.

"We'll just submit the evidence to the DOJ secretary; it's up to her kung sinong makita niyang dapat respondents," he said.

He refused to name these officials, but said they were "high enough."

An example of this alleged misuse was the allocation of P105 million through NABCOR for "technical studies." Baligod said NABCOR made it appear that 10 non-government organizations (NGOs) conducted the study.

"Pinalabas nila yung technical studies ang nag-conduct ay 10 NGOs, pero sila mismo ang gumawa at nung binayaran ang NGOs, ni-remit din ang pera sa kanila at dineposit sa account ng isang NABCOR official," he said.

Baligod said the possible charge for these misuse is plunder.

It remains to be seen whether the DOJ will pursue the case, considering that De Lima has maintained that the DOJ, through its attached agency National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), will only probe PDAF-related anomalies involving NGOs connected to alleged PDAF scam architect Janet Lim Napoles.