The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to charge former Bulacan 1st District Rep. Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam involving a private rural bank.
Sy-Alvarado is charged with three counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and three counts of malversation of public funds.
The Ombudsman noted that the case is the “first PDAF-related case that involved a private financial entity, the Cooperative Rural Bank of Bulacan, that became the recipient of a portion of Alvarado’s 2007 PDAF.”
Also charged with Sy-Alvarado is CRRB General Manger Nestor Custodio, as well as Department of Social Welfare and Development Region III officials Minda Brigoli, Adelina Apostol, Mely Pangilinan and Maria Piedra.
According to the Ombudsman, in January 2008, P3 million was released by the Department of Budget and Management, upon the initiative of Sy-Alvarado for the implementation of the PDAF project under the DSWD’s Protective Services for Individuals and Families in Difficult Circumstances under the Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS) program.
Out of this allocation, P1 million was transferred to the account of the DSWD Regional III Office allegedly to establish a micro-financing scheme under the CIDSS program.
The Field Investigation Office of the Ombudsman said “that since the PDAF is for a public purpose, it may not be allocated for funding a private banking institution such as CRBB, a private stock corporation which operates primarily for profit and for the benefit of its members only.”
In her counter-affidavit, Sy-Alvarado said there was “good faith with the intention of extending financial assistance to her constituents to boost economic activity.”
She also said that CRBB was chosen because it is “a cooperative that reaches and maximizes the number of beneficiaries especially in the Province of Bulacan.”
Aside from facing charges, Brigoli, Apostol Piedra and Pangilinan were also found guilty of Grave Misconduct, Serious Dishonesty and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and are ordered dismissed from the service and meted the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of eligibility.
In case any one of them is already separated from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to their salary for one year.