Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chair of the powerful House appropriations committee and a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), has made available P5 million of his pork barrel fund in 2011 to one of the bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) allegedly controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles.
Pork barrel scam whistle-blower Benhur K. Luy provided the Inquirer documents that showed Ungab using P5 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) with special allotment release order (Saro) G-11-01589 dated Nov. 2, 2011, to implement livelihood projects for his third-district constituency in Davao.
While the proposal did not specify the NGO used as conduit for the transaction, Luy said Napoles used for the deal Kaupdan para sa Mangunguma Foundation (KPMF), which listed John Raymund de Asis as president.
KPMF was one of 20 bogus NGOs that Luy and five other whistle-blowers claimed were set up as dummies by Napoles to enable her JLN Corp. to control P10 billion worth of pork barrel and other government funds over the last 10 years. The six were former employees of Napoles.
KPMF was involved in another livelihood project of Ungab, details of which his staff was still attempting to retrieve as of press time.
Ungab confirmed that he allocated P5 million for livelihood projects for his district, but he denied that the funds came from his pork barrel.
Ungab’s staff provided the Inquirer with a copy of the Saro signed by Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos showing that the P5 million came from the office of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, a fellow LP member.
The conduit NGO was Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (AEPFFI) and not KPMF. Ungab’s camp was aware that AEPFFI, led by Nemesio Pablo, belonged to the Napoles network of bogus NGOs but it maintained that the project was legitimate and that it had proof that the program was fully implemented.
Based on the proposal, the project to cultivate high-value crops (except rice and corn) would be implemented as a “collaborative undertaking” of the respective offices of Alcala and Ungab.
“To complement the efforts of these two agencies, a strategic partnership will be undertaken with a nongovernment organization which has the expertise and proven track record in implementing agro-economic development projects in the countryside. This entity shall serve as the link between the two offices,” according to Willie D. Ang, the project coordinator, who prepared the proposal.
Luy claimed that Ang was a gardener in Napoles’ mansion at Forbes Park village in Makati City. This was in line with Napoles’ pattern of hiring her trusted help to fill up key positions in her web of bogus NGOs. Luy himself is the son of Napoles’ maid. Luy, his mother and his sister were all named as incorporators of Napoles’ company.
The contract stipulated that the NGO would distribute 323 agriculture production packages containing fertilizer and sprayers priced at P15,450 each, or a total of P4,990,350, with the balance of P9,650 listed as implementation cost.
The 52-year-old Ungab, who is on his third and final term as representative, has been named chair of the House appropriations committee, the most powerful congressional post next only to the Speaker and the majority leader.
In the 15th Congress, Ungab was chair of the House ways and means committee, which was successful in passing amendments to the sin tax law.
He is so far the highest-ranking lawmaker in the Aquino administration to be implicated in the pork barrel shenanigans.
In a statement, Ungab stressed that the project was “legitimate, valid and aboveboard” and went through the standard processing of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the House and the Commission on Audit.
“The appropriation was fully liquidated, documented by the DA as the implementing agency, and the project was fully implemented and delivered to its intended and actual beneficiaries. I personally attended the distribution of the farming implements and materials to the actual beneficiaries,” he said.
“So I am shocked and quite upset by this news,” Ungab said in a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer.
“My office always ensures that all the projects we undertake are fully implemented and executed, as in this case, we were in close coordination with the DA when each phase of the project [such as delivery of materials; inspection of the said materials and distribution] was being executed,” he said.