DAVAO CITY—Pork barrel funds, like baseball cards, can be swapped.
This was what appeared in records from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) involving the pork of Rep. Mylene Garcia-Albano (second district, Davao City) and her father-in-law, former Rep. Rodolfo Albano Jr. (first district, Isabela).
According to the DBM website, Garcia, of the second district of Davao City in Mindanao, sent over P9.4 million of her pork, officially called the Priority Development Assistance Fund, to the district of her father-in-law, Albano, in Isabela province in Luzon.
In turn, Albano also sent over P9.4 million of his pork to Garcia’s district in this city.
Garcia is married to Albano’s son, incumbent Rep. Rodolfo Albano III (Isabela, first district), former vice governor. The elder Albano couldn’t run for a fourth term as congressman so he ran for mayor of Cabagan town in Isabela and won.
Garcia, in a statement, said her pork did not go to Isabela but were “exchanged” for the same amount of so-called hard projects. Her pork had been allotted for so-called “soft” projects, which she said her district did not need.
“I did not give funds to Isabela. I exchanged the exact same amount,” said Garcia. She said that as a result, the second district of Davao City received 10 new infrastructure projects from the Department of Public Works and Highways.
She said seven of the projects had been completed. Of the three that are still not completed, she said one “requires some corrections.”
“It is legal and representatives are normally doing this,” she said. She said she had to “swap” her pork with that of her father-in-law because her district needed infrastructure projects.
The DBM records showed that on Dec. 13 last year, as a result of the swap, at least P7 million of Garcia’s funds were used for the repair of a drainage system in Cagagan and Sto. Tomas towns in Isabela.
Garcia’s pork also funded P500,000 worth of roads in Tumauini town and two so-called multipurpose buildings in two villages in Delfin Albano, a town in Isabela named after a member of the Albano clan.
At least P1 million of Garcia’s pork was also spent on a drainage system in Tumauini.
In exchange, at least P4 million of the elder Albano’s pork was spent on road repairs in Garcia’s district.
At least P700,000 of Albano’s pork was also used to build two classrooms in Agdao Elementary School in Garcia’s district.
About P2 million of Albano’s pork was also used for “flood control structures” in Garcia’s district.
Albano also swapped P1.3 million of his pork to Garcia to build a “water system” in Garcia’s district.
Another P220,000 of Albano’s pork was spent for a “multipurpose pavement” in Garcia’s district.
Albano also used P1 million of his pork for “social services” in Garcia’s district.
Hundreds of thousands of people rallied at Luneta in Manila on Aug. 26 to protest the continued use of pork barrel funds by legislators after a series of stories that appeared in the Inquirer revealed how the public funds are being stolen systematically through a racket allegedly being operated by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles with the connivance of senators and congressmen. Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao