By Rey Panaligan
The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed its 2018 decision that ordered the dismissal from service of two ranking officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the illegal release of P1 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
In a resolution issued last March 18 and written by Associate Justice Ramon R. Garcia, the CA denied the motion for reconsideration and supplemental motion filed by dismissed DSWD regional director Minda B. Brigoli and operations division chief Mely S. Pangilinan.
Brigoli and Pangilinan were dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) in 2017 for gross misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
PDAF, commonly called pork barrel fund, has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) in 2013.
In its ruling, the OMB found Brigoli and Pangilinan liable administratively for disbursing in 2008 P1 million in PDAF funds of former Bulacan first district Rep. Maria Victoria R. Sy Alvarado to the Cooperative Rural Bank of Bulacan (CRBB).
It said CRBB, a private business enterprise, was not authorized under the law that created the then PDAF to handle PDAF funds that were intended for public needs through Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and People’s Organizations (POs).
In its 2018 decision that dismissed Brigoli and Pangilinan’s petition, the CA cited OMB’s finding that “the Special Allotment Release Order No. ROCS-08-00364 covering the subject P1,000,000 PDAF of former Congresswoman Sy-Alvarado expressly provides that the said fund shall be used in furtherance of the DSWD’s Protective Services for Individuals and Families in Difficult Circumstances (PSIFDC) under the Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS) Program in the 1st District of Bulacan.”
“Evidently, CRBB was unauthorized to receive the P1,000,000 PDAF since only the NGOs and POs are considered as valid recipients thereof. In spite of the said irregularities, petitioners Brigoli and Pangilinan knowingly participated in the execution of the MOA and the subsequent release of the funds to CRBB,” the CA said.
It pointed out: “Petitioners’ (Brigoli and Pangilinan) connivance with the other public officials clearly diverted the public purpose of the PDAF to a private purpose, which the law prohibits. Certainly, these repeated and illegal transfers of public funds to CRBB’s control and possession gave the latter unwarranted benefits and caused undue injury to the government.”
Thus, the CA said that “there exists substantial evidence on record to hold petitioners Brigoli and Pangilinan liable for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
“WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review is hereby DENIED. The assailed Decision dated July 7, 2017 of the Office of the Ombudsman is AFFIRMED,” the CA ruled in 2018.
With the adverse decision, Brigoli and Pangilinan filed a motion for reconsideration and supplemental motion which were both denied.
“Petitioners failed to show any compelling reason that would warrant a reversal or modification of the aforementioned Decision. A perusal of the Motion for Reconsideration and its Supplemental Motion shows that no new matters are alleged therein that have not been considered, passed upon, and discussed in the decision sought to be reconsidered,” the CA said.
Associate Justices Eduardo b. Peralta Jr. and Geraldine C. Fiel Macaraig concurred in the resolution.