Saturday| June 24, 2017
A graft complaint was filed on Friday against former Albay Representative Edcel Lagman for the alleged misallocation of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or "pork barrel" amounting to almost P200 million.
The complaint was filed before the Office of the Ombudsman by Hernando Bruce, a bishop of Jesus Miracle Crusade and Roberto Barcela, chairman of Barangay Bonga in Bacacay, Albay.
The complainants said Lagman and his daughter, former Tabaco, Albay Mayor Cielo Krisel Lagman-Luistro violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for supposedly questionable PDAF allocations during the elder Lagman's term as congressman of the First District of Albay.
Citing a Special Audit Report of the Commission on Audit (COA) released in 2012, the complaints said Lagman, 2007 to 2009, allegedly diverted P86 million of his PDAF for various projects outside his legislative district such as in Quezon City, Pampanga, and Nueva Ecija.
Among the supposed anomalous projects were the construction and repairs of some establishments in private properties in Quezon City amounting to P18.56 million. One is a clubhouse supposedly located in a private subdivision.
GMA News Online sought comment from Lagman but he was not replying to calls and text messages as of posting time.
Lagman is seeking re-election as the representative of the First District of Albay in the upcoming May polls under the administration’s Liberal Party (LP).
Meanwhile, the complainants also alleged that Lagman extended loans from his PDAF to two private organizations namely, the San Carlos Agro-Industrial Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SACAMCO) and Bacolod-Tayhi Homeworks Association, Inc. amounting to P1.5 million and P134,000, respectively.
Based on the COA report, the complainants said the loan grants were not supported with any project proposal, request from beneficiaries and evaluation report on the need to grant assistance.
“More notable is the fact that the supposed financial assistance given to the two (2) entities was not in line with the principle of the government of releasing funds strictly for public purposes, since the said organizations are private in nature,” the complaint read.
Aside from the loans, the complainants also questioned scholarship grants amounting to P26.749 million.
The COA report said the scholarship program was allegedly not supported with request from the intended beneficiaries and that “there was no proof that students were enrolled in any educational institution.”
The complainants also claimed that COA report showed that Lagman reportedly extended financial assistance worth P1.262 million to individuals, municipalities and barangays without the required project proposals and official request for assistance from the beneficiaries.
The complainants also alleged that Lagman charged from his PDAF a total of P129.719 million for the procurement of various items including furniture, medals and tokens for various projects and sports events in Tabaco City where his daughter Lagman-Luistro was then the sitting mayor.
Citing the COA special audit report, the complainants said the disbursements of Lagman’s PDAF for the said procurements were not supported with necessary documents such as:
proof of request from end-users;
proof of evaluation on the need to provide assistance;
receipts for the procurement of furniture amounting to P124,100;
proof of approved sports program or any document authorizing the conduct of any sports event, and
proof of distribution to the end-users of tokens, medals, trophies, food subsidy and other items procured.
“Respondent Lagman released the funds without first determining whether or not assistance in these projects was, in fact, necessary….Respondent Lagman-Luistro as beneficiary and/or implementor of the said projects did not have any supporting documents showing that the funds were properly liquidated, and were spent for the benefit of the intended beneficiaries,” the complaint read.