Ex-MMDA chief Bayani Fernando charged with graft over MMFF funds misuse

  • Former MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando is facing graft raps before the Sandiganbayan
  • He was charged by the Ombudsman for the alleged misuse of MMFF funds during his term
  • Also charged with Fernando are five former MMDA officials

MANILA, Philippines – Former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Bayani Fernando and other MMDA officials are facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged misuse of Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) funds from 2003 to 2009.

The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the filing of graft complaints against Fernando, MMDA Assistant General Manager Edenison Fainsan, Director Leonila Querijero, Consultant Rolando Josef, Chief Revenue Officer Cleofe Ablog and General Manager Robert Nacianceno for alleged irregularities.

In the charge sheet, the Ombudsman said it found probable cause to indict the six MMDA executives for the anomalous transactions which includes P1.6 million birthday cash gift to Fernando; P11.8 million expenses for cultural projects; and P10.8 million in cash incentives granted to the chairman and members of the executive committee based on the Commission on Audit (COA) report.

“The respondents’ conspiratorial act of authorizing and approving the irregular payments and expenditures depleted the funds of the MMFF thereby causing it undue injury,” said Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Questionable transactions

In its report, COA noted anomalies in the use of said fund, such as lack of official receipts from local government units (LGUs), the intended beneficiary of the projects, as well as lack of duly-approved payrolls for cash incentives.

The Ombudsman also questioned the issuance of checks for cash incentives in Ablog’s name and why it was issued on a pay-to-cash basis.

The anti-graft body also found Fainsan and Querijero guilty of grave misconduct and were ordered dismissed from office, which was converted to a fine equivalent to respondents’ one-year worth of salary since the two are no longer working with the agency.

The two were also meted with accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of eligibility with bar from taking the civil service examination.

Fernando, a long-time mayor of Marikina City, was appointed as MMDA chairman in 2002 and served until 2009. He run a failed campaign for the vice presidency in the 2010 general elections with Senator Richard ‘Dick’ Gordon.

He returned to the Lower House after being elected as representative of Marikina City’s First District last May election.