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Ombudsman orders filing of raps vs DA exec

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of graft and falsification charges against suspended Department of Agriculture (DA) assistant secretary Kristine Evangelista, Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) vice-president for operations John Gabriel Benedict Trinidad III and 16 other individuals in connection with the alleged profiteering and price manipulation of onions late last year.

In a 26-page resolution, the dispositive portion of which was obtained by the media yesterday, the ombudsman said it found probable cause to indict Evangelista and Trinidad with violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and falsification of documents as defined and penalized under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code.

Also ordered charged with Evangelista and Trinidad were 16 individuals from the DA, FTI and Bonena Multipurpose Cooperative: Israel Reguyal, Benedict Libres, Marlon Pagsisihan, Jocelyn Jane, Rossul Batadhay, Romy Jimeno, Charlito Ylanan, Francisco Laplana III, Arnold Osorio, Angelo Lajom, Randy Santos, Erickson Cortez, Ruben Bautista, Vince Lorenzo, Windell Glenn Canaan and A.J. Bamala.

The ombudsman, on the other hand, dismissed the charges against DA senior undersecretary Domingo Panganiban, DA administrative officer V Eunice Biblanias, DA officer-in-charge chief accountant Lolita Jamela, FTI president and chief executive officer Robert Tan and FTI Budget Division head Juanita Lualhati “for lack of probable cause.”

“The resolution of this case is without prejudice to the conduct of fact-finding investigation against other public officers and private individuals responsible for the irregularities in the said project,” the ombudsman’s resolution read.

Meanwhile, in a separate decision also released yesterday, the ombudsman has ordered Evangelista’s dismissal for administrative offenses of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Trinidad was likewise ordered dismissed for administrative offenses of gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Aside from their dismissal, the ombudsman also imposed against them the accessory