‘Luis Abalos’ mystery solved: DBM says it’s Benhur AbalosBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A certain “Luis Abalos” never received a P20-million pork barrel allocation, said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Thursday. That amount should have been credited to Mandaluyong Mayor Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos when he was a congressman, the DBM said, issuing a second correction on inaccuracies in the Commission on Audit (COA) report released last week.
Who Luis Abalos was never established.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad earlier said the DBM erred in crediting a whopping P3 billion to Rep. Manuel E. Zamora of Compostela Valley—an amount that was reflected in the special audit by COA of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, from 2007 to 2009.
The DBM said Zamora’s total PDAF allocation for the three years audited totaled P10 million.
Abad said the amount was erroneously attributed to Zamora, covered by a special allotment release order (Saro), but which should have gone to the Department of Public Works and Highways for the preventive maintenance of national roads and bridges, instead of Zamora, who actually received only P500,000.
Jimmy Isidro, a spokesman for Abalos, confirmed the former congressman had received P20 million in PDAF. Isidro said the money was used for the construction of a two-story school for special children, which received the Gawad Pook award last year.
In a statement released Thursday, Abad also noted that a P40-million allocation attributed by the COA report to President Aquino, who was a senator then, was never released during that special audit period. Although the Saro for then Senator Aquino’s PDAF request had already been approved, it was ultimately not issued and the fund had gone unused.
The problem was, according to Abad, there was no limit to the amount of pork that legislators were allowed to access in the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.—With a report from Kristine Felisse Mangunay