Ex-solon Alcala acquitted of PDAF cases, ordered to pay gov’t P6.05-M

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2023 07:02 PM

MANILA — Former Quezon 2nd District Rep. Proceso Alcala was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan 1st Division of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) cases but was ordered to pay the government P6.05 million as civil liability for his negligence.

In the decision of the anti-graft court promulgated on March 20, 2023, Alcala and his former chief-of-staff Claron Alcantara were acquitted of one count of graft.

In the information filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2019, Alcala, Alcantara and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary Mateo Montaño allegedly conspired with each other in 2007 in giving unwarranted benefits amounting to P6.05 million to the Economic and Social Cooperation for Local Development Foundation Inc. (ECOSOC) led by Executive Director Roberto Solon.

The PDAF funds were diverted to ECOSOC or Solon but the organization turned out to be fictitious as the intended beneficiaries of the project did not receive financial assistance.

The court noted in the decision that Montaño died during trial resulting to the dismissal of his cases.

“As has been discussed, the discretion and decision to deny or grant ECOSOC's application for registration, including the processing of the same, as well as the release of the said funds in whole or in part, lies with the DSWD, as the implementing agency, and not Alcala,” the court said.

The court however found Alcala civilly liable and ordered him to pay the government P6.05 million plus 6 percent per annum interest for his negligence in the strict implementation of the project funded by his PDAF.

The court noted that the Commission on Audit team found out that some farmer beneficiaries did not receive the P120,000 capital assistance intended for them, among others.

“With respect to the MOA (Memorandum of Agreement), Alcala performed his duties therein, although as intimated earlier, his negligence in monitoring the project's implementation resulted in the transfer of PDAF funds by the DSWD to ECOSOC to the detriment of the public treasury,” the court said.

In the related malversation of public funds cases, Alcala and Alcantara were also acquitted in one count while Alcala was acquitted in another for the failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The court found no corresponding civil liability.

Because the court did not acquire jurisdiction over Solon who has remained at large. The criminal cases against him were ordered archived, to be revived upon his arrest.