Former Customs commissioner and Muntinlupa City representative Rozzano Rufino "Ruffy" Biazon and 14 others were slapped with criminal charges in connection with their alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
In separate charge sheets filed by the Office of the Ombudsman with the Sandiganbayan on Friday, Biazon, and his co-accused that includes former Pampanga representative and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chairperson Zenaida Ducut were charged with one count each of violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation of public funds as defined under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC)
Biazon was also charged with one count of direct bribery as defined under Article 210 of the RPC.
Aside from Ducut, named as Biazon’s co-accused in the graft and malversation cases were the following former government officials:
- former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) undersecretary Mario Relampagos
- former DBM budget and management specialist Rosario Nuñez
- former DBM administrative assistants Marilou Bare and Lalaine Paule
- former Technology Resource Center (TRC) director-general Antonio Ortiz
- former TRC deputy director-general Dennis Cunanan
- former TRC group managers Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana and Francisco Figura
- former TRC budget officer Consuelo Lilian Espiritu
- former TRC chief accountant Marivic Jover
- former TRC internal auditor Maurine Dimaranan
Also named as co-accused in the graft and malversation cases were suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and a certain Evelyn De Leon.
Based on the information on the cases, Biazon allegedly allocated P3 million of his so-called pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2007 to the Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc. (PSDFI), a foundation allegedly created by Napoles, in exchange for P1.950 million worth of “rebates” or kickbacks.
The Ombudman through its Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), however, clarified that based on the checks and disbursement vouchers, only a total of P2.700 million of Biazon’s PDAF was actually released to PSDFI.
The OSP said Biazon “unilaterally” chose and endorsed PSDFI to implement his supposed PDAF-funded livelihood project without holding a public bidding as required under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Law.
The OSP further alleged that the PSDFI was unqualified and unaccredited to carry out the project, which was later discovered to be “non-existent and were never implemented”.
The OSP said Ducut, as the personal agent of Biazon, was the one who received the kickbacks from Napoles on the lawmaker’s behalf.
Meanwhile, the concerned DBM and TRC officials allegedly conspired with Biazon in the processing of Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) and disbursement vouchers that paved the way to the release of his PDAF to PSDFI.
“By their above acts, Biazon and the above-named public officials…misappropriated PDAF-drawn public funds, instead of implementing the PDAF-funded project which turned out to be non-existent,” the case information read.
As for Napoles and De Leon, the OSP said they “participated in the preparation and signing of the acceptance and delivery reports, disbursement reports, project proposals and other liquidation documents to conceal the fictitious nature of the transaction”.
The OSP recommended P30,000 bail bond for graft, P40,000 bail bond for malversation and P20,000 bail bond for direct bribery. — APG, GMA News