MANILA, Philippines—Will wonders never cease?
From ghost projects to dummy NGOs to a ghost congressman.
The latest twist in the pork barrel horror show is the Commission on Audit (COA) report listing a certain Luis Abalos who, despite not being a member of the 13th or 14th Congress, was able to allocate P20 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for infrastructure projects.
COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan on Friday said that even the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) did not know who Abalos was and how he got P20 million released from his PDAF “allocation.”
“They could not explain that to us,” Tan said.
The COA official singled out the case of Abalos in a press conference where she disclosed the agency’s Special Audit Report on pork barrel fund releases from 2007 to 2009.
Abalos, who was supposedly from “NCR” or Metro Manila, was on the list of members of the House of Representatives with questionable pork barrel projects.
The COA audit, which took three years to complete, covered P101.6 billion released by the DBM for various infrastructures including local projects (VLIP). Also covered in the audit were infrastructure or hard projects identified by senators and congressmen, P12 billion in PDAF (also called pork barrel), and P2.36 billion for financial assistance to local government units (LGUs) and budgetary support to government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).
The COA report said P32.347 billion were released from the allocation of 356 legislators, including the mysterious Congressman Abalos.
The COA report said government agencies routinely transferred pork barrel funds to NGOs identified by legislators without first verifying the existence and credentials of these organizations.
Tan said most of the NGOs were of dubious existence.