ZAMBOANGA CITY— Golfers at a government-run course here can now practice their swing more often, courtesy of a driving range built using public funds released through the pork barrel of former Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian (second district, Zamboanga City).
Part of Fabian’s pork financed the driving range at the golf course being maintained by the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) in Barangay (village) Calarian, which turned out to be not a part of Fabian’s district.
Tieza is formerly Philippine Tourism Authority and is now headed by Mark Lapid, former Pampanga governor and son of Sen. Lito Lapid, who has also been tagged in the pork barrel controversy.
Romeo Urian, Tieza manager, said the project in Barangay Calarian, which is in the first, not the second, congressional district, benefited golfers and guests of the golf course.
Urian defended the release of P2 million in public funds through Fabian’s pork, saying the driving range helped bring in more players at the golf course and promoted tourism in the city. Fabian, who couldn’t run for a fourth term as congressman so he ran but lost for mayor of this city, declined to comment on the golf project and left the explaining to Urian.
Urian said officials of Calarian village were aware of the project and were the ones who requested for the driving range.
“The request for funding for the driving range was coursed through the barangay and they forwarded it to Fabian,” he said.
Merham Acas, former district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Zamboanga City, said Fabian’s pork was also spent in 2012 on covered courts and toilets worth P6.5 million.
In a report by the Department of Budget and Management, Fabian’s projects were simply identified as “multipurpose buildings.”
Acas said it was Fabian who specified what projects should be funded by his pork, officially known as Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF.
“We (DPWH) just can’t put up any project. This has to be identified and recommended by Representative Fabian,” Acas said.
He admitted that among the projects identified by Fabian and funded by his pork was “a multipurpose building” in Barangay Calarian in 2012.
Calarian is, however, in the first congressional district, then represented by Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, now the city mayor.
Acas said he could not explain why Fabian poured projects into an area outside his legislative district. “He might be able to explain it,” he said. Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao