COA: Pork used for ghost projects
Report says Padilla allocation went to nonresidents, fake beneficiariesBy Melvin Gascon |Inquirer Northern Luzon
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—Livelihood projects funded by the 2009 pork barrel allocation of Rep. Carlos Padilla went to recipients that turned out to be fake beneficiaries, Commission on Audit (COA) documents showed.
COA records showed that an unspecified amount of Padilla’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that was supposedly for livelihood projects went to beneficiaries from at least five Nueva Vizcaya towns who are nonresidents, as certified by local officials.
The alleged anomaly was exposed by the mayors following media reports on the estimated P195 million in PDAF of three senators and a former representative that supposedly went to a questionable nongovernment organization in 2011.
Local officials said the recent controversy resembled Padilla’s PDAF-funded projects, which were checked by COA and which the mayors certified were nonexistent.
“We are a bit alarmed by the report because this happened under our noses, and some people may have [benefited] at the expense of our poor constituents,” said a mayor who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.
COA records showed that from 2007 to 2009, Padilla’s PDAF was used on training programs, livelihood kits and information materials for beneficiaries in Aritao, Dupax del Norte, Dupax del Sur, Villaverde and Diadi towns.
Based on COA records, the projects were supposedly implemented by the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) of the Department of Science and Technology, and funds were released to Aaron Foundation Philippines Inc., a nongovernment organization.
Among the documents submitted to COA are photocopies of a nine-page alphabetical list of at least 450 supposed recipients, without specific addresses, which were stamped as “paid.”
But Padilla denied any involvement in the manipulation of the projects, saying that he, too, found the beneficiary list spurious.
“I had told them of my strong suspicion that the names and addresses on the list are bogus or fake. Even my own signature was also forged,” Padilla said by telephone on Monday.
He said in a previous budget hearing, he confronted TLRC officials about the anomaly and urged them to cooperate with COA.
“I asked them to expedite the investigation and file charges against those who are responsible,” said Padilla.