Dangwa charged over ‘pork’ misuse-A A +A
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Former Benguet representative Samuel Dangwa is now being probed for malversation of public funds, direct bribery and other violations of the Graft and Corrupt Practices Act before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Dangwa is among the 38 past and present government officials facing charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in connection with the multibillion peso pork barrel fund controversy.
"Since the commencement of the investigation proceedings, I have intimated my desire to be probed directly on the matter. I have wanted to be heard so that the investigation may go wherever the evidence may lead to, before formal charges are brought to bear upon me. To date however, I have yet to receive any invitation to participate in the proceedings," Dangwa lamented.
The former lawmaker is being made accountable for his P26,770,472 priority development assistance fund (PDAF) allocation allegedly released to dubious non-government organizations founded by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Dangwa along with former Agusan del Sur representative Rodolfo Plaza (P42.14 million out of the P79.5-million PDAF allocation) and former Cagayan de Oro representative Constantino Jaraula (P20.84 million out of the P50.5 million-PDAF allocation) face similar charges.
In a statement furnished to media by his legal counsel Edgar Avila, Dangwa said he is "ready to face the music."
"Despite the fact that I was not heard earlier as I wished, I nonetheless welcome the elevation of the investigation to a more formal level, even if such transition would mean more vilification of my person before the bar of public opinion. I am prepared, as I always have been, to open myself and my conduct as a public official to scrutiny, and I hold that quiet confidence that all these imputations of wrongdoing against me are not only false but are also in themselves wrongful," Dangwa said.
He said he has never confirmed the authenticity of any of the documents connected with the subject PDAF releases.
"The reasons and circumstances of my non confirmation of the sad documents are precisely what I would have wanted to share with the investigators on the matter, apart of course, from the fact that I would have wanted also to be confronted directly with such documents. Apparently however, the chances of such opportunity being given me at this stage have significantly waned and formal charges being filed against me looks now to be the order of the day," Dangwa stated.
"To be sure, my name was merely mentioned, without more, by whistle blowers as among those legislators who endorsed the release of portions of the PDAF’s in favor of non-government organizations which later turned out to be illegitimate. These NGO’s too would soon be identified as linked to Ms. Janet Napoles to whom, reportedly, the funds eventually ended up. On the basis of such endorsements, hasty conclusions are now made that I am as culpable as the others who may have actually misused the funds.
"By law, members of Congress are authorized to propose and select projects to be funded by the PDAF and carried out by the implementing agency and the NGO. The duty, however, to ascertain the legitimacy of the NGO before funds are released to them rest, not upon the legislators, but upon the implementing agency. If a dubious NGO is therefore able to pass itself off as a legitimate entity, the breakdown in procedure lies with the implementing agency and culpability lies with it too," Dangwa said.
Plunder charges were also filed against three senators: Juan Ponce Enrile for P172,834,500; Ramon Revilla Jr. for P224,512,500; Jinggoy Estrada - P183,793,750; Rizalina Seachon-Lanete - P108,405,000; and former representatives Edgar Valdez - P56,087,500; and Rizalina Seachon-Lanete for P108,405,000.
Plunder, which involves the misuse of at least P50 million in taxpayers' money, is a non-bailable offense and punishable by life imprisonment, forfeiture of assets, and disqualification from entering government service.
"I wish to state that I have held and continue to hold, an enduring faith in the competence and professionalism of the various forms of our criminal justice system. I remain steadfast in the belief that our system is one that hears before it condemns," Dangwa said.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 18, 2013.