Malacañang is moving to abolish Philippine Forest Corp., the agro-forestry arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and one of the many spigots that fake NGOs used to access pork barrel funds, according to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.
The environment secretary said Philforest president Erwin Krishna N. Santos had been suspended indefinitely while the DENR was investigating the questionable deals the company had entered into with the bogus NGOs and members of Congress.
“Some of the Philforest’s functions might go to the Bureau of Forest Management. The immediate goal is to stop the source of pork leaks,” Paje said.
Paje said President Aquino had asked the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel to study the abolition not only of Philforest but also of National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) and Zamboanga del Norte College Rubber Estates Corp. (ZREC) of the Department of Agriculture; Technology Resources Center (TRC) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST); and, National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC) of Land Bank of the Philippines.
Paje said the President was “extremely disappointed” with how the pork barrel scam continued into his administration, specifically the release of P428.5 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the official name of pork barrel or funds that finance pet projects of lawmakers, through the five state companies.
The P428.5-million PDAF, which came from two senators (Gregorio Honasan II and Manuel Lapid) and 24 members of the House of Representatives, was released from October 2010 to December 2011 to nine NGOs with dubious records.
The fake NGOs were 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)
Outside Napoles network
These nine NGOs do not belong to the network of fake ones allegedly put up by detained Janet Lim-Napoles, accused of masterminding a P10-billion pork scam in 10 years.
After two weeks on the run, Napoles, accused of serious illegal detention of Benhur Luy, her former employee turned whistle-blower, is now detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. She surrendered to Mr. Aquino on Aug. 28.
Paje said the Philforest board had not been informed of the fund releases to the bogus NGOs.
“I would have not allowed it since we have stopped processing all pork barrel releases through the DENR since I took over. But the pork was released directly to the Philforest which should never have been allowed because it should have gone through the budget process,” he said.
OIC secures records
Paje said he had appointed Environment Undersecretary Analiza Teh as officer in charge “to secure documents, records and materials relevant to the investigation.”
In an October 2012 letter to the Philforest board, the Commission on Audit (COA) did not endorse the company’s financial statement for 2011 because of incomplete or missing documents.
The COA noted that the negative comments against Philforest had been recurring since the 2006 audit because management continued to ignore its recommendations, such the absence of an accounting system.
Like a shell firm
For an entity that handled close to half a billion pesos in 2011, Philforest operates like a shell corporation with no organizational structure.
Although its president and vice president are elected by the board, Philforest has a workforce of 19 temps whose contracts are renewed yearly. It has five consultants and two laborers taking care of its nursery in Limay, Bataan.
Philforest is a subsidiary of National Resources Development Corp., itself a DENR subsidiary, whose flagship program is to propagate Jatropha for biodiesel production.
Based on documents obtained by the Inquirer, Honasan accounted for P195 million of the P428.5 million in PDAF received by Philforest in 2011—P40 million in August 2011 and P100 million in December 2011 funneled to FDGFI; P50 million to the WFI in February 2011; and P5 million to PFI in December 2010.
KKFI and 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, Lapid, gave P5 million of his pork to FDGFI in June 2011.
Half of the PDAF that went to Philforest in 2011 came from representatives—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 Cotabato (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).
In the COA special audit of pork barrel releases from 2007 to 2009, TRC received P2.432 billion; NLDC, P1.259 billion; Nabcor, P1.227 billion; and ZREC, P282 million.
The COA questioned why these corporate entities allowed the NGOs to undertake the projects that they should have undertaken themselves.
The COA also wondered why the state firms chose the NGO beneficiaries based solely on the recommendation of lawmakers and why they rewarded themselves with 3 percent to 3.5 percent in management fees for practically doing nothing.
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 NLDC. Roughly half of the funds were released between 2010 and 2012.