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Pork misuse persists on Aquino’s watch

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The misuse of the pork barrel—public funds that finance pet projects of lawmakers—appears to have continued on the watch of President Aquino, with huge amounts being funneled into bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs).

Between 2010 and 2012, some P500 million of pork went to fake NGOs through the state-owned Philippine Forest Corp., the office of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), documents obtained by the Inquirer showed.

Philippine Forest Corp. is the agroforestry arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), while Nabcor is the agriculture department’s corporate subsidiary.

The NGOs do not belong to the network of fake NGOs that fugitive Janet Lim-Napoles had set up to receive P10 billion from the  Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the official name of pork barrel, of five members of the Senate and 23 members of the House of Representatives over the past 10 years.

The Inquirer reported on Aug. 16 that seven fake NGOs allegedly controlled by Napoles had cornered close to P1 billion in pork barrel of five senators and eight representatives that was coursed mainly through National Livelihood Development Corp., the microfinancing arm of Land Bank of the Philippines. Roughly half of the funds were released between 2010 and 2012.

Commission on Audit (COA) chair Gracia Pulido-Tan said her team would release soon the special audit on Philippine Forest Corp., which received P428.5 million in pork barrel for the production of jatropha as biodiesel feedstock.

Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II accounted for P195 million of the pork that was facilitated by Philippine Forest Corp. to nine NGOs.

These were the Focus on Development Goals Foundation Inc. (FDGFI), Interactive Training Opportunity on Needs Alleviation Movements Inc., Kapuso’t Kapamilya Foundation Inc. (KKFI), Livedures Foundation Inc., Maharlikang Lipi Foundation Inc., Philippine Environment and Ecological Development Corp., Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (PFI), Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Inc. and Workphil Foundation Inc. (WFI).

Honasan, who did not reply to the Inquirer query, gave P100 million in December 2011 and another P40 million in August 2011 to the FDGFI; P50 million to the WFI in February 2011; and P5 million to the PFI in December 2010.

Both the KKFI and the PFI were among the 82 questionable NGOs that a COA special audit of pork barrel from 2007 and 2009 said received at least P6.165 billion in the PDAF of 12 senators and 180 House members.

Another senator, Manuel Lapid, gave P5 million of his pork to the FDGFI in June 2011.

House pork via PFC

 

The House members who gave pork to Philippine Forest Corp.  were Antonio T. Kho of Masbate (P30 million), Salvador P. Cabaluna II  and Michael Angelo Rivera of the 1-CARE party-list group (P22.5 million each), Reynaldo V. Umali of Oriental Mindoro (P15 million), Jose Benjamin Benaldo of Cagayan de Oro (P15 million), Nicanor Briones of the Agap party-list group (P13 million);

Emil Ong of Northern Samar (P13 million), Peter Unabia of Misamis Oriental (P12 million), Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman of Basilan (P11 million), Joel Roy Duavit of Rizal (P10 million), Eduardo Gullas of Cebu (P9 million), Ramon H. Durano VI of Cebu (P9 million);

Nancy Catamco of North Catabato (P9 million), Marc Douglas Cagas IV of Davao del Sur (P7 million), Jesus Emmanuel Paras of Bukidnon (P5 million), Potenciano Payuyo of the Apec party-list group (P5 million), Isabelle Climaco of Zamboanga City (P4 million), Nelson Dayanghirang of Davao Oriental (P4 million);

Robert Raymund M. Estrella of the Abono party-list group (P3 million), Rodolfo Valencia of Oriental Mindoro (P3 million), Yevgeny Vicente B. Emano of Misamis Oriental (P3 million), Teoderico Haresco of the Kasangga party-list group (P1.5 million), Jose Aquino II of Agusan del Norte (P1 million) and Franklin Bautista of Davao del Sur (P1 million).

Paje against practice

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said he had questioned the practice of legislators releasing their PDAF directly to a state company, Philippine Forest Corp.

Paje said this should not be allowed because this would undermine the national budget allocations approved by Congress.

He said that as a policy, he had rejected any PDAF releases through the DENR although P11 million in pork was already processed in 2010 when he took over.

The Inquirer also obtained documents showing a list of at least a dozen NGOs that received pork from lawmakers from 2011 to 2012, with the office of Alcala and

Nabcor as the designated implementing entities.

Four NGOs obtained P30.809 million in 2011, with the bulk of P29.1 million going to the Sagip Buhay People Support Foundation Inc. (from Honasan and former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros) through Nabcor.

The balance was coursed through the Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation Inc., P1.402 million (Nabcor); Visca Foundation for Agricultural and Rural Development Inc., P519,000 (Department of Agriculture-Office of the Secretary); Consortium for the Advancement of People’s Participation, P650,000 (DA-OSec); and Gateway East Foundation Inc., P540,000 (DA-OSec).

Gateway East Foundation used the money as “financial assistance for the dissemination of a desk calendar, ‘12 Good Reasons Why You Should Use Bayong.’”

Seven NGOs

Last year, the agriculture department processed P53.6 million worth of pork to at least nine NGOs.

Coprahan at Gulayan Foundation Inc.  eceived P750,000 from former Agham Rep. Angelo Palmones.

Gabay at Pag-Asa ng Masa Foundation got P1.5 million from Rep. Renato Unico of Camarines Norte, P1.659 million from Rep. Abigail Faye Ferriol of the Kalinga party-list group, P1.26 million from Rep. Anthony T. Golez of Bacolod City, P225,000 from

Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas of Cebu, P600,000 from Rep. Rodante Marcoleta of the Alagad party-list group, P525,000 from Rep. Renato Unico Jr. of Camarines Norte and

P1.5 million from Rep. Julieta Cortuna of the A-Teacher party-list group.

Kaakbay Buhay Foundation Inc. received from Representatives Nur Ana Sahidula of Sulu (P750,000), Bai Sandra Sema of Maguindanao (P750,000) and Jim S. Salliman Hataman of Basilan (P750,000).

Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc. got from  Representatives Gullas (P1.425 million), Julio Ledesma of Negros Occidental (P1.35 million), Abigail Faye Ferriol of the Kalinga party-list group (P1.74 million), Marcoleta (P3 million),  Mariano U. Piamonte Jr. of the A-Teacher party-list group  (P1.5 million) and Gabriel Luis R. Quisumbing of Cebu (P900,000).

Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation Inc. received from Representatives Leopoldo Bataoil of Pangasinan (P2.044 million), Quisumbing (P750,000), Cortuna (P600,000), Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption (P300,000), Maria Valentian Plaza of Agusan del Sur (P750,000), Irwin Tieng of the Buhay party-list group  (P300,000),  Isidro T. Ungab of Davao City (P1.125 million) and  Monique Yazmin Q. Lagdameo (P1.2 million).

From unnamed legislators, National Corn Competitiveness Group Inc. got P11.764 million; Philippine Maize Federation Inc., P1 million; Ploughshares Inc., P1.5 million; and UP Los Baños Foundation Inc., P12.1 milion.

Various NGOs received P25.27 million from Sarangani Rep. Erwin Chiongbian.

These transactions were on top of the P89.2 million worth of pork funds from eight representatives in the 15th Congress who used a Napoles-owned NGO, Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc., to implement the projects under Alcala’s watch, according to testimony by pork barrel scam whistle-blowers Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas.

Alcala confirmed that P83.2 million went to Kaupdanan and only P38.2 million had been released as of last month.

Tighter DA accreditation

He claimed that the agriculture department had tightened its accreditation of NGOs eligible for its projects since 2011 (owing to the anomalous use of pork uncovered by the COA), but he could not explain how a Napoles NGO had managed to be included on the list.

Alcala has refused to reveal the complete list of NGOs sanctioned by his department despite repeated requests by the Inquirer. He was reprimanded by President Aquino for promoting Ophelia P. Agawin to assistant secretary in 2012 despite her role as an accountant in the P432-million fertilizer scam engineered by former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante.

Charges against Agawin was dropped and she remained with the agriculture department’s division handling the accreditation of NGOs.

Agawin is currently suspended, but his boss, Undersecretary Antonio Fleta, a protégé of Alcala, remains the head of the department’s finance division, the same post occupied by Bolante.

Senators and representatives have invariably denied any dealings with the NGOs claiming their signatures were faked or they were not responsible for monitoring the NGOs’ implementation of these projects that they claimed was the responsibility of implementing agencies.

Last week, the Liberal Party secretary general, Eastern Samar Rep. Senen Sarmiento, said the P10-billion pork barrel scam involving Napoles and 28 senators and House members happened before the Aquino administration implemented reforms.

The official of the ruling party said the use of the pork barrel had been judicious and strictly regulated since 2010.

Faced with a growing public outrage over the corruption-ridden PDAF and calls for its abolition, President Aquino scrapped the fund. He, however, did not abolish the pork barrel as this would be included as line items in the proposed 2014 national budget.

Under the new scheme, lawmakers will identify the specific projects for the line-item budget, a process different from the PDAF scheme in which they get lump-sum amounts that they could use to fund their pet projects.

Originally posted: 9:05 pm | Sunday, August 25th, 2013


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Tags: Department of Agriculture , Department of Environment and Natural Resources , Graft and Corruption , Janet Lim Napoles , News , Non-government organization , Philippine Government , Plunder , Politics , Pork barrel , pork barrel scam , Priority Development Assistance Fund , Ramon Paje




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