Ninety-seven checks totalling P900 million sourced from the Malampaya Fund were issued to 12 nongovernment organizations (NGOs) allegedly controlled by alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles in 2009, according to an internal audit of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
The entire P900 million was released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the DAR “to provide services to Agrarian Reform Communities to help them recover from the losses brought about by Typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng,” said the report by Romeo Reyes, the director of the DAR’s internal audit section.
The NGOs and the corresponding amounts they got were: Karangyaan Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc., P82.5 million; Gintong Pangkabuhayan, P82.5 million; Kaupdanan Para sa Magunguma Foundation, P75 million; Kasaganahan Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, P75 million; Dalangpan Sang Anon Utod Kag Kasinmawa, P75 million; Ginintuang Alay Sa Magsasaka, P77.5 million; Bukirin Tanglaw, P75 million; Abundant Harvest for People’s Foundation, P75 million; Tanglaw Para sa Magsasaka, P72.5 million; Saganang Buhay sa Atin, P80 million; Micro-Agribusiness Citizen’s Initiative, P55 million; and Masaganang Buhay, P75 million.
The P900 million was covered by only one Special Allotment and Release Order (Saro) E-09-08417 and one Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) BMB-E-09-0024-816 issued by the DBM.
The signatories of the checks were DAR Undersecretary Narciso Nieto and Dominador Singson, the DAR head of administration.
Twenty-one checks for a total of P202 million were dated Nov. 26, 2009; 12 checks for P110 million were dated Dec. 3, 2009; and 42 checks for P377.5 million were dated Dec. 23, 2009.
Reyes said the audit also showed that the justification for the use of Malampaya money for the DAR came from a provision in Presidential Decree No. 910, stating that “Malampaya funds could be used for such other purposes as directed by the President.”
Mayors disown signatures
To effect the transfer of the funds, memorandums of agreement (MOA) were executed by Nieto, the mayors of the local government units (LGUs) and the presidents of the NGOs, Reyes said in his report.
But several mayors denied that they had requested funds and claimed that their signatures had been forged, he said.
Reyes said that the internal audit also showed that the registration papers of the 12 NGOs showed that they were notarized by lawyers Editha Talaboc for 10 NGOs and Mark Oliveros for two NGOs.
He said DAR investigators also found that the addresses of the NGOs that were submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission were all nonexistent.
In a phone interview on Friday, Merlina Suñas, one of the former Napoles employees who has turned whistle-blower, confirmed that Napoles had placed her in charge of the Malampaya operation and that “no delivery was made to the LGUs and all the money was remitted to Napoles.”
Suñas confirmed everything that she had stated about the Napoles-run Malampaya operation in an affidavit she submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation in July.
She said she acted as project coordinator for JLN Corp., the Napoles company, with the DAR for the Malampaya operation.
In her affidavit, Suñas said the signatures of Nieto and the heads of the NGOs in the tripartite MOA for the distribution of the P900 million were genuine but those of the LGU officials “were forged.”
The LGUs were supposed to be the recipients of the agricultural kits that were to have been supplied by the Napoles NGOs.
“But no delivery was ever made, all the receipts were manufactured for the liquidation of the funds,” Suñas said.
She said the money received by the NGOs were all remitted to Napoles.
Freeze and sequester
A Catholic bishop in Palawan on Friday urged the government to order a freeze on and sequester all the assets and unexplained wealth acquired by all government officials linked to the Malampaya Fund scam.
Puerto Princesa Bishop Pedro Arigo said the government must act fast before those involved in the alleged theft of the funds could hide their properties and unexplained wealth.
“The government must sequester all the unexplained wealth of those involved in the Malampaya Fund scam because this is the money of the people,” Arigo said in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas yesterday.
“The Bureau of Internal Revenue must act immediately to seize the assets that the involved government officials have acquired with the Malampaya Fund before they can transfer ownership under another name,” he added.
Arigo lamented that while Napoles has been able to easily profit from the Malampaya Fund, Palawan continues to be deprived of its legal share of the proceeds from the natural gas project off the coast of the province.
Call on SC to decide
“We also call on the Supreme Court to decide on our petition that Palawan be given its share of the Malampaya Fund,” the prelate said, noting that oral arguments on the case ended in 2009.
He said the high tribunal has yet to resolve the issue of whether the province can claim a legal share equivalent to 40 percent of the royalties collected by the government from the Malampaya gas project.
“What is painful is that in the absence of a decision, many corrupt government officials feasted on these funds,” Arigo said. With a report from Jocelyn R. Uy
First posted 12:05 am | Saturday, September 21st, 2013