State-owned National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC) was used as the conduit for around P1 billion worth of pork barrel funds of five senators and eight representatives that ended in seven fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs) allegedly controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles from 2008 to 2012, according to whistle-blower Benhur K. Luy.
Based on documents furnished by Luy, 80 percent of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) were handled by the NLDC, the main lending source of poor farmers in unserved, scarcely populated areas and is under the management of the Land Bank of the Philippines.
NLDC handled a total of P273 million of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s PDAF allocations in 2008, 2009 and 2010; P260 million from Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. in 2009 and 2012; P176.65 million from Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile in 2009 and 2010; P75 million in 2012 from Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.; and P15 million from Sen. Gregorio Honasan in 2009.
The NLDC also received pork funds from former and incumbent representatives—Rizalina Seachon-Lanete from Masbate (P55 million in 2009 and 2010), Rodolfo Plaza from Agusan del Sur (P44 million in 2009 and 2010), Conrado M. Estrella III from Pangasinan (P40 million in 2009 and 2010), Edgar L. Valdez of party-list group Apec (P30 million in 2009 and 2010), Robert Raymund M. Estrella of party-list group Abono (P19.5 million in 2009), Rep. Samuel Dangwa from Benguet (P9 million from 2009), Victor Francis Ortega from La Union (P5 million in 2009) and Erwin Chiongbian from Sarangani (P3.8 million in 2009).
The Inquirer called the offices of Landbank president and NLDC chair Gilda Pico and NLDC vice chair and president Gondelina G. Amata, but they had not replied as of press time. Pico’s secretary said her boss was out of town while Amata’s staff said she was in a meeting. Napoles has issued a blanket denial of wrongdoing.
Luy tagged Amata as the contact person of Napoles in the NLDC which explained why the businesswoman was able to use the agency in two administrations. Amata was appointed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in December 2005 and was retained under the Aquino administration.
Shaky financial standing
Amata was retained in her post despite the NLDC’s problems, specifically the high risk of losses from its outstanding P2.663 billion loans as of 2011.
“The average portfolio at risk ratio of 13.77 percent for the last two years (or more than double the standard 5 percent), indicates poor quality of loan portfolio, hence, there is a need to give special attention to certain aspects of microfinancing, such as credit evaluation and approval of loan applications and monitoring of loan accounts,” the Commission on Audit (COA) said in its 2011 report.
The NLDC is the product of a 2007 financial restructuring program which merged National Livelihood Support Fund and the Livelihood Corp. or the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran Processing Center Authority. The NLDC’s mandate is to spur the development of livelihood and community-based enterprises in agri-business, specifically agrarian reform communities, and “transform the poor into empowered and self-sufficient communities.”
The seven NGOs that received funding from NLDC were Luy’s Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc., Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (president Marina C. Sula), Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (Nemesio Pablo), Agriculture Para sa Magbubukid Foundations Inc. (Jocelyn Piorato), Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation Inc. (Simonette Briones), Kaupdanan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (John Raymund de Asis) and Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (Ronald John Lim).
These are part of the 20 NGOs that Luy claimed were formed by employees and relatives of Napoles who had offered lawmakers at least 60 percent of the value of the pork value in exchange for selecting her NGO affiliates that implemented ghost projects involving livelihood seminars and farm input packages.
While most of the lawmakers were vague about where their PDAF to NLDC went, Enrile stated that the P50 million he gave to NLDC in 2010 was for livelihood programs in barbering, soap-making, wellness massage, silkscreen printing, aromatic candle making, women’s hairdressing and food processing (tocino and chorizo).
NLDC’s failure to liquidate the pork barrel advances to NGOs was initially cited two years ago, the same year the Department of Budget and Management delisted NLDC as one of the implementing agencies for PDAF.
In its 2011 audit, the COA scored NLDC for releasing pork barrel funds despite deficiencies in liquidating previously released funds contrary to the memorandum of agreement between NLDC, the legislator and an NGO. The COA did not identify the lawmaker and the NGO involved.
Under the memorandum of agreement, the NLDC should only release the remaining 70 percent of the PDAF if the NGO had submitted complete and written liquidation documents.
Among the deficiencies noted by the COA in the liquidation report were erasure on an official receipt without countersignature; the business permit, residence certificate and board resolution in the 2010 memorandum of agreement were dated 2009 and 2008; only one person appeared to have signed on the attendance sheet for seminars; no specific addresses were listed for the participants; the listed participants were from a barangay outside of the legislator’s district; the actual number of participants did not correspond with the number on the tally sheet; and the number of materials distributed did not tally with the number of participants.
“Completeness of liquidation documents does not only mean that all required attachments are submitted but also presupposes that presented documents are for valid disbursements. The NLDC did not reject payments that were unnecessary or erroneous before releasing the funds to properly assist in the attainment of the primary purpose of the utilization of the PDAF,” the COA said.
In response, the NLDC management said it would adhere to the memorandum of agreement’s provisions for the remaining unliquidated PDAF from 2009 and 2010.