Former PVAO officials face graft raps

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 08 2011 10:46 PM | Updated as of Jun 09 2011 06:46 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft charges against former officials of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) for supposedly defrauding funds earmarked for monthly pensions of veterans worth P26.33 million.

Two counts of graft were filed against former PVAO administrator Wilfredo Pabalan and chief accountant Leovegildo Santos, and another was also filed against former administrator Artemio Arugay and consultant Enrique Santos.

“The respondents were responsible for the transfer of PVAO funds totaling to P26,327,278.14 from a government accredited bank to a non-accredited bank and for the use of funds for purposes other than the payment of pensions  for which the funds were reserved,” the Ombudsman said in its 26-page resolution recommending indictment of all four respondents. The period supposedly covered January to August 2003.

State auditors found out that Pabalan signed an agreement allowing Centennial Savings Bank (CSB) to become the “depository entity” of PVAO.

The Ombudsman said the agreement was not dated, notarized nor passed the scrutiny of state auditors.

Different amounts were withdrawn on different dates, findings showed.

“The act of the PVAO officials in opening an account with CSB, a non-accredited bank, facilitated the cash manipulations and transfer of funds from one bank account to another, without complying with the requirements of the law, rules and regulations on proper documentation of government expenditures,” the Ombudsman said.

These were the findings of graft investigator Cherry Chiara Hernando that were approved by former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on September 27, 2010. The charge sheet was only filed on Wednesday.