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GMA cleared in Malampaya case

The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) has ordered the filing of plunder and graft charges against 25 former officials of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Department of Budget and Management (DAR) and non-government organizations (NGOs) controlled by Janet Lim Napoles in the alleged illegal diversion of P900 million from Malampaya Fund.

The Ombudsman, however, dismissed the same complaints against former President Arroyo, and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita due to insufficiency of evidence.

In a 134-page joint resolution, the Ombudsman explained that “complainants failed to prove that Arroyo and Ermita conspired with their co-respondents in the illegal diversion of the Malampaya fund, or that they deviated from the regular procedure.”

The fund is a special fund created to finance the government’s energy resource exploration and development pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 910.

The money represents the government’s share in royalties, rentals, production share on service contracts on the exploitation of energy resources generated by petroleum operations in the Camago-Malampaya reservoir in northern Palawan.

Facing two counts of plunder, 97 counts of graft and 97 counts malversation are former DBM Secretary Rolando Andaya and Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and former DAR Secretary Masser Pangandaman, Undersecretary Narciso Nieto and Director Teresita Panlilio.

Also included in the charge sheet are former Candaba Mayor Rene Maglanque, former Malacañang official Ruby Tuazon and officials of Napoles’ NGO Janet Lim Napoles, Jo Christine Napoles, James Christopher Napoles, Reynald Lim, Evelyn de Leon, Ronald Francisco Lim, Ronaldo John Lim, Eulogio Rodrigues, Simplicio Gumafelix, John Raymund de Asis, Rodrigo Galay, Alejnadro Garro, Paquito DinsonJr., Gerald Apuang, Napoleon Sibayan, Winnie Villanueva, Angelina Cacananta and Ronald Venancio.

The respondents are found to have acted in concert to divert the fund releases drawn from the fund allocated by the DBM to DAR in 2009, which was malversed and coursed through the NGO’s controlled by Napoles and for which huge kickbaks and commissions were paid. (JUN RAMIREZ)