Janet Lim-Napoles’ dummy groups secured millions of pesos worth of questionable livelihood projects under the Aquino administration from the pork barrel funds of at least six senators last year, according to a 2012 report of the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The reports on the websites of the COA and the DBM showed that the activities of Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind a P10-billion swindling scheme, went on not only for much of the graft-ridden administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but also continued well into the “daang matuwid” regime of President Aquino.
Mentioned in the reports were Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr., Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Vicente Sotto III and Loren Legarda. They allegedly allowed the nongovernment organizations (NGOs) controlled by Napoles access to their allocations under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
All six senators denied any wrongdoing.
The PDAF, or pork barrel, is meant to ease rural poverty and provide relief to storm victims, among many others. In many cases, however, the PDAF has become a source of kickbacks for lawmakers.
In the 2012 reports of COA and the DBM, Estrada gave P63 million of his PDAF to the Napoles NGOs in four local government units (LGUs), Marcos, P40 million to four towns, Legarda, P25 million to three LGUs, Sotto, P20 million to two LGUs, Revilla, P20 million to two towns and Enrile, P10 million to one municipality.
In previous reports by whistle-blowers to the National Bureau of Investigation that the Inquirer published in July and the COA special audit from 2007 to 2009, only senators in the opposition were mentioned, giving rise to criticism that they were the object of an administration “demolition” job. The accusers said the schemes generated kickbacks of up to 70 percent.
But the 2012 audit report said Legarda, an administration ally, had authorized P5 million of her PDAF allocation for the distribution of farm products for high-value crops in Dinalupihan and P10-million allotment in Pilar, both in Bataan province, coursed through Napoles’ NGO People’s Organization for Progress (POPDF).
In the Dinalupihan project, the POPDF was also endorsed as the implementing agency of Enrile (P10 million) and Estrada (P23 million).
The audit commission said a review of the fund transferred to the NGO amounting to P38 million from the three senators disclosed that the LGU in Dinalupihan had “failed to submit the necessary supporting documents needed upon the release, implementation and liquidation of funds as required by the COA.”
It said there was “no final utilization report, no liquidation report, no warranty for procurement of farm supplies.”
The COA said that the rules on procurement under Republic Act No. 9184 were disregarded in the Dinalupihan program. It said documentary requirements on the liquidation of funds were either insufficient or incomplete, in violation of COA Circular No. 2012-001 dated June 14, 2012.
“The offices of Estrada, Enrile and Legarda allocated to the municipality P38 million from their PDAF as per various Saros (statement of allotment release orders from the DBM) for the implementation of livelihood projects. Attached to the voucher was a letter of request that the project be implemented by the People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation,” it said.
Estrada’s PDAF allocations for Dinalupihan came in three tranches with Saros attached—P5 million for 137 organic agrarian implement packages at P36,450 each, P10 million in 487 high-value yield enhancement packages each costing P20,500, and P8 million in farm inputs and implements at P20,500 per package.
Enrile’s P10-million pork barrel went to 487 high-value yield enhancement packages at P20,500 each, and Legarda’s P5 million for a similar deal.
Aside from Legarda’s endorsement of P10 million of her pork barrel funds to the POPDF livelihood project in Pilar, the COA said the NGO there also secured authorization to use another P10 million from Revilla’s pork allocation, P10 million from Marcos and P5 million from Estrada.
Here, the COA said that the P35 million in total funds to the Pilar LGU was released even before memorandums of agreement (MOAs) could be notarized. “Distribution of goods could not be ascertained,” it said.
The POPDF was “identified and designated by the concerned senator to expedite the implementation of the project” in Pilar, the COA said.
“Thus, the validation of the disbursements of Priority Development Assistance Funds cannot be made,” the report said.
The COA said that in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija province, a postaudit of transactions disclosed that 10 vouchers amounting to P90 million for livelihood projects were coursed through three Napoles NGOs—Countrywide and Rural Economic Development, Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation and Kaupdanan Mangunguma Foundation Inc.
“[The] funds were received by the LGU through the initiative of different senators from their PDAF, but were disbursed to NGOs/PO (public organizations) without complete supporting documents. This practice does not conform with Section 2 of COA Circular No. 2012-001 dated June 14, 2012.
The senators were not named in the COA report, but the Department of Budget and Management website of last year showed that Estrada had coursed P15 million of his PDAF allocation to San Antonio, Sotto P15 million, Revilla P10 million, Legarda P10 million, and Marcos P10 million.
The audit commission said that P30 million in PDAF funds went to Calasiao in Pangasinan province and implemented by Napoles’ Kaupdanan “for the implementation of livelihood projects for entrepreneurs and small farmers” from the PDAF allocations of “various senators” who likewise were unnamed.
“We noted that documents required in the COA circular dated June 25, 2007, were not attached to the disbursement vouchers,” it said. In addition, there were insufficient documents, including the certificate of Kaupdanan’s registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a copy of its articles of incorporation, financial reports audited by independent certified public accountants for the past three years, disclosure of its related businesses and a complete project proposal,” the commission said.
The DBM website showed Calasiao received disbursements of P5 million from Sotto’s PDAF and P10 million from Marcos.
The COA report also said Kaupdanan secured P47 million in livelihood projects for Sual, also in Pangasinan, which also lacked documentation.
It did not mention where the PDAF allocations came from, but the DBM website showed that P20 million of Estrada’s allocations went to Sual, along with P10 million from Marcos.