BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Former House Speaker Prospero Nograles has been slapped with criminal charges for alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) aka congressional pork barrel.
Charged before the Sandiganbayan along with the former congressman of Davao City’s First District were former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and former Congressmen Candido Pancrudo Jr. (Bukidnon) and Thomas Dumpit Jr. (La Union).
In the complaints, the Ombudsman alleged the projects funded by the PDAF of Nograles, Pancrudo and Dumpit were endorsed to fictitious NGOs and were not implemented.
The Ombudsman charged Nograles, as then caretaker-Representative of the First District of Misamis Oriental, for over P47.5 million in illegally disbursed pork barrel from 2007 to 2009. Nograles took over the post of Congressman Danilo Lagbas, who died in 2008.
The Ombudsman started investigating Nograles, Dumpit, and Pancrudo in July 2013 after news of the multi-million-peso PDAF scam broke out.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, wished his arch political rival “good luck” but refused further comment saying the case is now in the court.
“Good luck na lang, Dodong,” he said. “Dodong” is Visayan for Boy. Nograles’ nickname is Boy Nogie.
Nograles had engaged Duterte and his camp in political combat during elections since 1992.
Duterte trounced Nograles with a landslide win in the 1992 mayoral contest.
Nograles took another defeat in the mayoral race in 1998, against Benjamin de Guzman, then Duterte’s political ally. De Guzman, Duterte’s former city administrator, former vice mayor and mayor, has parted ways with Duterte and has pitched camp with Nograles after losing a reelection in 2001 against then come-backing Congressman Duterte.
In the 2010 elections, Nograles, capping his last and third term in Congress, challenged then Vice Mayor Sara Duterte in the mayoral race in his third failed attempt to conquer City Hall.
The then sitting House Speaker, the No. 4 most powerful man in the country, lost by more than 220,000 votes to the political neophyte daughter of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Former House Speaker Prospero Nograles has no comment on the graft raps filed against him by the Ombudsman over alleged misuse of millions of pesos of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
“No comment. Am retired and now a private citizen and not public property!” said Nograles, the former representative in Congress of Davao City’s First District and closest political ally of former President Gloria Arroyo, who is herself facing graft charges for various anomalies during her administration.
Nograles also said he is not aware of any investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman, and has not received any notice or formal communication from the anti-graft body at the time of its investigation.
Aside from Nograles, also facing charges of malversation and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act are former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, former Bukidnon 1st District Representative Candido Pancrudo Jr., and former La Union 2nd District Representative Thomas Dumpit Jr.
The four are accused of channeling P163.2 million of PDAF to various agencies and bogus non-government Organizations (NGOs).
The violations were allegedly committed between 2007 and 2009.