Pimentel files graft raps vs 4 DA officials

By on May 16, 2014

Sen. Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel. Photo courtesy of Koko Pimentel's Facebook page.
Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel. Photo courtesy of Koko Pimentel’s Facebook page.

MANILA — Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III has filed before the Office of the Ombudsman criminal and administrative complaints against four senior officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for allegedly forging his signature in the fund release for an organic farming project in Surigao del Sur in 2012.

Named in Pimentel’s complaints were DA undersecretary for administration and finance Antonio Fleta; supervising administrative officer Delia A. Ladera; Charie Sarah D. Saquing, department chief accountant; and Telma C. Tolentino, officer-in-charge of the budget division.

Pimentel accused them of falsification of a document and violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practice Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.

At the same time, Pimentel sought the preventive suspension of the four respondents pending investigation.

“Their continued stay in office may prejudice the just, fair and independent disposition of the cases against them,” Pimentel said.

Earlier this week, Pimentel said a syndicate behind the P10-billion pork scam linked to the operation of Janet Lim Napoles had forged his signature “in an attempt to forcibly associate me with their illegal activities, apparently not being able to take “NO” for an answer.”

Pimentel said his forged signature appeared in a letter dated October 29, 2012 addressed to the agriculture department.

“In fact, I have never endorsed any of my PDAF for implementation by any NGO, whether Napoles-controlled or not,” said Pimentel.

In his affidavit-complaint, Pimentel said the respondents made it appear that he participated in the act, by “requesting the release of P30 million for the Agro-Industrial Enhancement through organic farming” and by choosing or identifying Surigao del Sur as the beneficiary of P10 million for organic farming-related activities.

“I did not perform any such acts,” the Mindanao lawmaker said.

He further said Fleta had falsely narrated that the release of the P10 million was “pursuant to a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) when in fact there was no SARO, as respondent himself admits.”

Pimentel continued that respondents caused “undue injury to the government and the people by releasing the P10 million of appropriated funds “for a different purpose pursuant to a fake Senate letter.”

“The falsification of my signature in a falsified letter made to appear as having originated from my office, became the basis for the unlawful disbursement of government funds…purportedly for marginal farm families,” Pimentel said.

Such conduct, Pimentel said, violated the requirements of conduct for public officials under Sec. 4 or Republic Act 6713, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.

Pimentel was included in the Janet Lim Napoles list of at least 100 individuals, including at least 13 senators, who made transactions with Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam.