The Court of Appeals has upheld its dismissal of three former officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development for their involvement in the illegal release of multi-billion-peso pork barrel funds of two former Caloocan lawmakers.
In a resolution dated Dec. 23, 2020, the court’s former Special Second Division denied appellants Mateo Montaño, Pacita Sarino and Vilma Cabrera’ motion for reconsideration for failing to raise new arguments that would warrant the reversal of its decision issued on Feb. 28, 2020.
“This Court finds no new or substantial matters presented to justify a modification or reversal of the assailed decision. Wherefore, the motion for reconsideration is denied.”
Before their dismissal Montano served as the DSWD undersecretary, Cabrera was an assistant secretary and Sarino was an assistant director.
The petitioners were ordered dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman after they were found administratively liable for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The anti-graft body also ordered the forfeiture of their retirement benefits, the cancellation of their eligibility and their perpetual disqualification from re-employment in the government service.
The case arose from the administrative complaint filed by the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office in 2015 against the three officials.
The complaint alleged that under DSWD Memorandum Circular 24, only licensed and accredited non-government organizations and Peoples’ Organizations were eligible to accept and use the transfer of Priority Development Fund from the DSWD.
But the three DSWD officials facilitated the transfer of P10 million for the so-called Cajayon Project during the term of Caloocan Representative Mari Mitzi L. Cajayon to the Kalookan Assistance Council, which is not qualified for the PDAF transfer since it was not a licensed and accredited PO.
In an order issued on June 19, 2017, the Ombudsman held that the three officials participated in a scheme that allowed the misappropriation of government funds.
Meanwhile, the PACPO filed another administrative complaint against Montaño for grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and gross neglect of duty for facilitating the release of PDAF funds amounting to P5 million to KACI for the implementation of the so-called Asistio Projects during the term of Caloocan Rep. Luis Asistio.
On June 15, 2017, the Ombudsman issued a decision that found Montaño guilty and ordered his dismissal from the service.
In all these three consolidated cases, the appellate court affirmed the Ombudsman’s findings against the appellants.
“This Court finds that the Ombudsman is correct in imposing on all the petitioners the penalty of dismissal from the service with its accessory penalties,” the court said in its ruling issued in February.