MANILA -- Former Negros Oriental Rep. Herminio Teves is facing trial for his alleged involvement in irregularities in the disbursement of his 2007 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to charge Teves with one count of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, and one count of malversation of public funds.

Likewise ordered charged were Teves’ chief of staff Hiram Pulido and Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) executives Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover, Belina Concepcion and Francisco Figura.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) was furnished with copies of the Ombudsman resolution for possible violations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

Ombudsman probers uncovered documents showing that the former lawmaker’s PHP10-million PDAF, originally intended for livelihood projects for the depressed barangays in the third district, was instead used to fund Teves’ ghost projects.

In December 2006, Teves requested the release of his fourth tranche of PDAF allocations and selected the TLRC as implementing agency and the Molugan Foundation, Inc. (Molugan Foundation), as a conduit non-government organization (NGO).

It was also later determined that the Molugan Foundation did not have the capacity to implement the project as it was incorporated only in 2007, the year it was tasked to implement the PDAF project.

Field probers also found that no public bidding was conducted and that the NGO’s place of incorporation and the whereabouts of its incorporators both yielded negative results.

Despite being a ghost project, the respondents facilitated the approval of the disbursement voucher and check for the NGO in a single day.

The COA Special Audits Office Report and Notice of Disallowance disclosed that the projects supposedly funded by Teves’ PDAF were ghost or inexistent as there were no documents of its implementation or actual fund utilization.

In his defense, Teves said that “his signatures appearing in various documents linking him to the transactions are products of forgery.”

The Ombudsman dismissed this defense, saying that “forgery is not presumed; it must be proved by clear, positive and convincing evidence and the burden of proof lies on the party alleging forgery as mere variance of the signatures in different documents cannot be considered as conclusive proof that one is forged.”

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said that “certainly, this illegal conversion and transfer of public funds to the Molugan Foundation, purportedly for projects which did not actually exist, represent quantifiable pecuniary losses to the government constituting undue injury within the context of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019.” (PNA