World | Philippines

Philippines farmers accuse President Benigno Aquino, ministers of plunder

Group says President Benigno Aquino, two cabinet members were behind release of P125m to bogus NGOs

  • By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 17:01 January 21, 2014
  • Gulf News

Manila: A militant group of farmers has filed a plunder complaint against President Benigno Aquino over the release of funds for non-energy related expenditures from royalties paid by oil explorers of an offshore oil supply off Palawan, southwestern Philippines.

The Association of Filipino Farmers filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, a 16-page complaint that also included Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and Agrarian reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes.

Aquino and the two cabinet members were allegedly behind the release of P125 million (Dh10.1 million) to bogus non-governmental organisations linked to private businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, for non-existent projects, supposedly related to the agrarian reform department, the group said.

Aquino allegedly approved the proposal of the budget department to disburse money from the government’s Malapaya Funds for projects of the agrarian reforms department, through several beneficiary groups including NGO with links to Napoles.

“The President and respondent public officials of the department of budget should know and should have known that the Malampaya Funds were earmarked for energy development or energy-related projects,” the group said in its complaint.

The agrarian reform department is not engaged in energy expenditure, said the complaint signed by Rafael Mariano, head of KMP.

Last November, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the use of Malampaya funds for non-energy related expenditures.

In October, KMP filed a plunder case against Aquino and some cabinet members for the allegedly irregular release of development funds.

Napoles has been accused of instigating senators and congressmen to approve the release of their respective development funds to non-existent projects and through her non-functioning NGOs.

The lawmakers allegedly earned 50 per cent of the funds they had released.

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