Saturday, March 29, 2014

COA unearths new P515-M ‘pork’ scam

By Jess Diaz 
The Philippine Star 
Commission-on-AuditMANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has unearthed a new pork barrel scam, this time involving nearly P515 million coursed through an agency under the Office of the President.
This was the first time that irregularities in the use of congressional funds had reached the doorsteps of Malacañang under the administration of President Aquino.
The agency involved is the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), headed by former elections commissioner Mehol Sadain.
Two senators – Juan Ponce Enrile and Gregorio Honasan – and 38 former and incumbent members of the House of Representatives allocated more than P514 million to NCMF in 2012.
According to the newest COA report, copies of which have been sent to the House, the funds ended up in 18 foundations and non-government organizations (NGOs), some of which are identified with alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles.
The NGOs supposedly used the money for various livelihood projects, training and seminars for Muslim Filipinos.
“The audit team was informed that the concerned lawmakers were the ones who identified the NGOs/POs (people’s organizations), and not NCMF, as evidenced by the letters of the lawmakers to the secretary of the NCMF,” the report said.
The report classifies P25 million of the releases as coming from Malacañang’s controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), while the rest came from the now unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) – the congressional pork barrel’s official name.
“It is our view that the selection of NGOs/POs should be undertaken by NCMF because the funds were released to NCMF, and therefore, the same agency is duty-bound to account for the funds to the government and/or beneficiaries,” the audit team said.
“The practice of allowing lawmakers to select NGOs/POs to implement the PDAF and DAP was not in accordance with COA Circular No. 2007-001. The selection should not be done by lawmakers but by NCMF officials having full responsibility over the funds released to them,” it said.
The circular governs the release of government funds to NGOs. It provides guidelines on the use of such funds.
The audit team noted that the memoranda of agreement (MOA) signed by NCMF, the lawmakers and their chosen NGOs lacked certain requirements prescribed in the circular, such as “time schedules for the releases of funds, periodic inspection/evaluation, reporting, monitoring, date of commencement (of projects), and date of completion.”
It said many of the fund releases lacked supporting documents like contracts and purchase orders.
18 foundations
The COA report lists the 18 foundations, the lawmakers who gave them funds and the amounts released to these NGOs. Many of the fund givers were party-list representatives.
Honasan gave P30 million to Focus on Development Goals Foundation Inc. for projects for Muslim Filipinos in Taguig, Manila, Quezon City, Valenzuela, Caloocan, and Navotas.
Enrile allocated P25 million to Livedures Foundation, while Rep. Maximo Rodriguez of party-list group Abante Mindanao gave it P12 million.
The biggest NGO-recipient was Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, which cornered P160 million of the lawmakers’ P515-million allocations.
Kaagapay received P11 million from Representatives Nelson Collantes (Batangas), P4.5 million from Homer Mercado (1-UTAK), P20 million from Michael Angelo Rivera (1-CARE), P10 million from Jose Benjamin Benaldo (Cagayan de Oro City), P5 million from Justice Marc Chipeco (Calamba City), P9 million from Jonathan Yambao (Zamboanga Sibugay), P10 million from Angelo Palmones (Agham);
P15 million from Nur Ana Sahidullah (Sulu), P3 million from Isidro Lico (Ating Koop), P5 million from Neil Benedict Montejo (An Waray), P6 million from Erico Basilo Fabian (Zamboanga City), P7 million from Nicanor Briones (AGAP), P13.8 million from Yevgeny Vicente Emano (Misamis Oriental), P7.8 million from Daryl Grace Abayon (Aangat Tayo), P14 million from Raymond Democrito Mendoza (TUCP), P15 million from Antonio Kho (Senior Citizens), and P5 million from Mariano Piamonte (A Teacher).
Maharlikang Lipi Foundation Inc. was the second biggest recipient with P67.7 million.
The funds came from Lorenzo Tañada III (Quezon), P10 million; Salvador Cabaluna III (1-CARE), P15 million; Maria Isabel Climaco (Zamboanga City), P11 million; Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-OWA), P5 million; Ponciano Payuyo (APEC), P2 million; Hajiman Hataman-Salliman (Basilan), P11.5 million; Simeon Datumanong (Maguindanao), P3.8 million; and Cesar Jalosjos (Zamboanga del Norte), P9.4 million.
Kapuso’t Kapamilya Foundation received P37 million from Abayon (AAMBIS-OWA), P7.5 million from Cabaluna, P7.5 million from Rivera, P2 million from Franklin Bautista (Davao del Sur), P10 million from Fatima Aliah Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte), P5 million from Briones, and P5 million from Sahidullah, for a total of P64 million.
Some P62 million was released to Rich Islas de Filipinas Foundation Inc.
The fund givers were Tañada, P10 million; Arnulfo Go (Sultan Kudarat), P15 million; Romeo Jalosjos Jr. (Zamboanga Sibugay), P5 million; Cabaluna, P15 million; Salliman, P12 million; and Yambao, P5 million.
Some P25.170 million was made available to Kagandahan ng Kapaligiran Foundation.
The funds came from Dimaporo, P15 million; Piamonte, P5 million; Bernardo Vergara (Baguio City), P3.670 million; and Teodorico Haresco (Ang Kasangga), P1.5 million.
Kabalikat sa Kalusugan Foundation received P4 million from Climaco and P6 million from Collantes, while I-Help Foundation received P7 million from Fabian.
Rosendo Labadlabad (Zamboanga del Norte) allocated P3 million to Kaisa’t Kaagapay Mo Foundation, while Arturo Robes of San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan gave P1 million to Workphil Foundation.
Kaakbay-buhay Foundation received P3.5 million from Rodriguez, while Mark Aeron Sambar (PBA) gave P5 million to Pangkabuhayan Foundation.
Some P14 million was released to Coprahan at Gulayan Inc. – P10 million from Ranulfo Canonigo (KAKUSA) and P4 million from Bai Sandra Sema (Maguindanao).
Additionally, Fabian of Zamboanga City gave P11 million to BL Personal Touch Foundation, while Salliman gave P1.1 million to UF Multi-purpose Corp.
Anthony Golez of Bacolod City allocated P10 million to Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation.
The release of the NCMF audit report followed the posting on the COA website of the audit findings on more than P100 million in pork barrel funds given by almost the same lawmakers to the same foundations through Philippine Forest Corp. (Philforest), also in 2012.
In the case of Philforest, eight foundations were used as fund conduits, including seven that figured prominently in the NCMF report.
The seven are Focus on Development Goals Foundation, Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Kapuso’t Kapamilya Foundation, Livedures Foundation, Maharlikang Lipi Foundation, Pangkabuhayan Foundation, and Workphil Foundation. The eighth Philforest conduit was Interactive Training Opportunity on Needs Alleviations Movement Inc. (ITONAMI).
Honasan, Sen. Lito Lapid and 19 House members were the sources of the P100.170 million given to these eight NGOs through Philforest.
The audit findings on NCMF and Philforest are contained in annual audit reports.
Show your rage
With some of the country’s most prominent politicians now being dragged into the PDAF scam issue, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago called on the youth not to vote for them and to show them their anger through social media.
“Be angry at these politicians who stole the taxes you and your parents pay. When you reach the voting age, which is 18, do not vote for them. Instead, shame them now,” Santiago said in her speech at the Rogationist College in Silang, Cavite yesterday.
“The pork barrel scam, for example, concerns you. When you buy something, eat at a restaurant, or use public transportation, you pay taxes. These taxes should have been used to fund fast trains coming here to Cavite, to lessen travel time and expense,” she said.
“By now, we should also have had better hospital facilities in all cities and provinces. If you get sick, these taxes should be used to fund your hospital care,” she said.
Implicated in the PDAF scam are Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.
“Take your campaign to Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. Post your grievances on these politicians’ walls. Tweet them your disappointments. Eventually, these politicians will shed their thick hides because of the shame, and reveal themselves to be spineless pathetic creatures,” she added.
“A nation is only as strong as its people. Do not subscribe to the bahala na (come what may) attitude and allow things to go with the flow. For evil to triumph, it is enough for good men to do nothing,” she said.
Santiago is among the most popular politicians among the youth, judging from the huge number of her followers on Facebook and Twitter. Her staff said she has 1.3 million Facebook fans, making her the most followed on Facebook among her colleagues.
Sen. Francis Escudero has the second biggest number of Facebook fans with 463,699, followed by Alan Peter Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Enrile, Grace Poe, Aquilino Pimentel III, JV Ejercito, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Teofisto Guingona III, Gregorio Honasan and Nancy Binay.
On Twitter, Santiago’s office noted she also has the most number of followers at 649,000. Escudero is also at second place with 176,118 followers, followed by Marcos, Legarda, Juan Edgardo Angara, Ejercito, Enrile, Guingona, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Pimentel, Poe, Antonio Trillanes IV, Honasan, Binay, Villar, Revilla and Senate President Franklin Drilon. Santiago’s office noted that Lapid does not have an official Twitter account. – With Marvin Sy

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