DA okayed P90M pork
Funds came from PDAF of 8 solonsBy il C. Cabacungan, Nancy C. Carvajal, Ronnel W. Domingo |Philippine Daily Inquirer
The office of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala endorsed the release of P89.2 million two years ago through a bogus agency allegedly owned by Janet Lim-Napoles despite tightened accreditation by the Department of Agriculture (DA) of nongovernment organizations (NGOs), the Inquirer learned on Wednesay.
Levito Baligod, counsel of pork scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy, said his client had documents, including special allotment release orders (Saro), showing that 11 pet projects of eight representatives in the 15th Congress used Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KPMI), which was allegedly set up by Napoles.
At press time, Alcala had not replied to a request for comment by the Inquirer on the claim of Baligod, whose client blew the whistle on Napoles’ activities in a series of statements earlier submitted to the NBI. Luy’s claims have been affirmed by the five other whistle-blowers. Napoles has denied any wrongdoing.
‘Can’t memorize everything’
“I am not Superman,” Alcala said Wednesday.
“The department has 40 attached agencies and I can’t memorize everything. But in good faith, I do not sign anything that has not passed the scrutiny of my staff,” he said.
He was reacting to an earlier Inquirer report on Wednesday. He had ordered an inquiry into the alleged involvement of an official of the Department of Agriculture in the activities of dummy nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that were said to have channeled state funds to ghost projects in schemes purportedly masterminded by Napoles.
He said he had sent a memo to Ophelia P. Agawin, assistant secretary for finance, to explain why pork barrel scam whistle-blower Merlina P. Suñas was implicating his office as a conduit of funds to bogus NGOs.
Asked how well he knew Agawin, Alcala said, “She goes to work religiously.”
“But we can’t base things on appearances. She needs to explain (the issue),” said the former congressman.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Suñas identified at least three livelihood projects worth a combined P16 million that were implemented by a Napoles NGO in Davao City, which used DA funds.
“Surely, I don’t know about those (projects),” Alcala said, adding that he had also ordered a “revalidation” of DA-accredited NGOs and projects.
He said he did not remember having signed any of the projects that Suñas mentioned.
Suñas said the three projects were worth P3 million, P5 million and P8 million, respectively, all of which supposedly involved the distribution of packages that included fertilizer and sprayers.
She said that only the P3-million project was implemented for show while the two other projects were mere “ghost deliveries.”
Kaupdanan was one of the 20 dummy NGOs set up by Napoles’ JLN Corp. which allegedly had managed to fleece P10 billion in state funds over the last 10 years in connivance with lawmakers and government officials.
Luy submitted the documents to the National Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday, the second day of closed-door hearings called to question officials and incorporators of the dummy companies, Baligod said.
The 31-year-old Luy was summoned as principal whistle-blower and president of Napoles’ Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc.
LP members, too
The P89.2 million released by Alcala came from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of eight representatives, including members of the ruling Liberal Party and party-list groups.
Baligod said that his client, as well as the other five whistle-blowers who also were former Napoles employees, had evidence not only against opposition lawmakers but also administration legislators.
“We are not looking if the people involved are members of the Liberal Party, Nacionalista or other parties. What we will name will be those in the documents,” he said.
Luy earlier implicated five senators and 23 House members in the alleged Napoles racket.
The lawmakers named in the documents, according to Baligod, were:
– Masbate Rep. Scott Davies Lanete, P30 million (P15 million Saro BMB-11-T000000311, April 26, 2011, and P15 million Saro BMB-11-T-000003550, Nov. 9, 2011).
– Lanao del Sur Rep. Mohammed Hussein Pangandaman with P15 million (BMB-11-T-00000124 June, 5, 2011).
– An Waray Rep. Neil Benedict Montejo with P14.2 million (P5 million Saro BMB-G-11-T000000573, April 29, 2011, and P9.2 million Saro G-11-T000003990, Nov. 17, 2011).
– Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab with P13 million (P8 million Saro BMB-G-11-T-000000085, April 18, 2011, and P5 million Saro G-11-01859, Nov. 2, 2011).
– Bukidnon Rep. Florencio Flores Jr. with P6 million (Saro G-11-T-000000405, April 27, 2011).
– Abante Mindanao Rep. Maximo Rodriguez P5 million (Saro G-11-T000001813, June 29, 2011).
– Camarines Sur Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella with P5 million.
– Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Lagdameo Jr. with P1 million.
No official receipts
Baligod said that it would be “very interesting” to see how the Department of Agriculture would liquidate these releases.
He said that the department, acting on mounting reports of bogus NGOs accessing state funds, had included KPMI on its list of 15 to 20 accredited NGOs even though the JLN affiliate was under investigation for its involvement in the release of P900 million worth of Malampaya funds by then Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman to fake Napoles agencies in 2009.
Baligod provided the Inquirer with a Commission on Audit (COA) letter to KPMI president John Raymund de Asis, an employee of Napoles, dated Nov. 6, 2012, demanding proof of receipt or delivery for the P75 million worth of agriculture inputs that it committed to buy with the Malampaya funds it obtained from Pangandaman for eight towns in northern and central Luzon.
The COA said that the liquidation documents submitted by KPMI to the Department of Agrarian Reform did not have official receipts, sales invoices and delivery receipts. The commission also asked KPMI to reveal the addresses of the beneficiaries and the criteria on how they were selected.
No funds from pork
Alcala said the DA had stopped channeling funds from lawmakers’ pork barrel since 2011 and that, following a stringent screening process, there were now only 26 DA-accredited NGOs.
Asked whether President Aquino still trusted him, Alcala replied by saying he just had lunch with the Chief Executive.
“He seems to be satisfied at what I have reported to him, and I’m sure he would not have shared a meal with me if I did not enjoy his confidence,” Alcala said.