Lapid: There’s nothing irregularBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sen. Lito Lapid on Friday said there was nothing irregular about his funding local government projects using pork, indicating that it is the job of the Commission on Audit to look into how the municipalities spent the money if there are suspicions of irregularity.
Lapid issued a statement in reaction to the Inquirer’s report detailing how P20 million of his pork allocation in 2011 went to the purchase of antidengue innoculants for four municipalities where there was no dengue outbreak.
Allowed by law
The report said Lapid gave P5 million each to the towns of Polillo in Quezon province and Teresa, Baras and Pililia in Rizal province, all of which had no dengue cases.
“The people need to understand that senators like me have no other means to allocate (our shares of the (Priority Development Assistance Fund) but through municipal or provincial governments or through government agencies that are allowed by law to receive funds from the PDAF,” Lapid said.
Lapid said that under the pork barrel system, it is the recipient agency that undertakes the procurement process, which is governed by state accounting and auditing rules.
“If there are irregularities that were seen in the use of those funds, we know that there is a Commission on Audit that will scrutinize how the funds were spent,” Lapid said, adding that he has confidence in the COA’s auditing process.
“Let us remember that the municipalities that receive PDAF are also part of the government and they are also under the procurement law and the audit of the COA,” Lapid added.
Palace: No comment
Malacañang declined to comment on its ally Lapid’s getting involved in the pork barrel scam involving businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, who allegedly siphoned off P10 billion in pork into her bank accounts through dummy nongovernment organizations over the last 10 years.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said it was up to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the use of Lapid’s allocation from the PDAF.
The NBI is investigating the scandal, which involved the pork allocations of five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives.
Valte defended Malacañang’s decision to limit the use of lawmakers’ pork shares to a menu of projects, which some legislators are protesting.
She did not explain the new rules, though, saying Budget Secretary Florencio Abad would be in a better position to explain the “stricter measures” on the use of the pork barrel. With a report from TJ Burgonio