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Ex-gov asks: Where did 2009 livelihood projects in GenSan go?

GENERAL SANTOS CITY—Former Sarangani Gov. Miguel Dominguez confirmed that infrastructure projects funded under the pork barrel of former lone district Rep. Erwin Chiongbian were implemented.

But Domiguez said he wondered where the livelihood projects under Chiongbian’s pork had gone to.

He said, for example, it was reported that Chiongbian gave P28.8 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund in 2009 to livelihood projects and programs in the lone district of Sarangani and were supposed to be “implemented” by the National Livelihood Development Center (NLDC).

Dominguez said he had not seen any of these projects or was familiar with the nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that allegedly helped implement them.

Chiongbian, who was succeeded by boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, could not be reached for comment.

But his nephew, incumbent Sarangani Gov. Steve Solon, said the last time he heard of his uncle, he was sick and in a hospital.

“I haven’t been able to contact him for the past five months. He is sick. I’ll try to check on him,” Solon said by text message.

Aside from the P28.8 million, Chiongbian gave P15 million more in 2010 for similar projects and programs, which were supposed to be NLDC-implemented also.

“As governor of the province from 2004 to 2010, I have no information of any livelihood project implemented in the province under the pork barrel of Rep. Erwin Chiongbian. Nor was there any that was coursed through the province,” Dominguez said in a text message to the Inquirer.

He said none of the NGOs listed as beneficiaries of Chiongbian’s pork barrel existed in the province.

Former Maasim mayor Arturo Lawa, who once served as Chiongbian’s chief of staff, told the Inquirer by phone that he, too, was not aware his former boss funded livelihood projects implemented by the NLDC in Sarangani.

“I have no knowledge about it. Those transactions might have been brewed in Manila. My concern was local,” Lawa said by phone.

The pork barrel scam is reminiscent of the 2003-2004 controversial fund scam in Sarangani in which several elected and appointed provincial officials were implicated, he said, in reference to the more than P40 million in government funds that were diverted to ghost cooperatives and associations ran by fictitious personalities.

Several officials were convicted in the scam, including former Gov. Miguel Escobar, the late Vice Gov. Felipe Constantino and Eugene Alzate, who was recently reelected as provincial board member. Aquiles Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao

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Tags: livelihood projects , Pork barrel , Regions , Sarangani

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