Ex-Cebu solon says part of his pork barrel went to 10 barangay headsBy Connie E. Fernandez |Inquirer Visayas
CEBU CITY – The P7.6 million that was supposedly earmarked for the purchase of hybrid goats was not missing at all, according to former Representative Antonio Cuenco of Cebu City’s south district.
He told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Friday that he had a copy of a Special Allotment Release Order (Saro) from Manila that showed the money had been realigned and given directly to the heads of 10 villages (barangay) or communities in the south district.
Cuenco clarified his earlier statement that the amount was used to purchase vehicles for the barangay captains.
He said P7,633,000 of his Priority Development Assistance Fund allocation was distributed equally to the 10 barangays, which in turn used the money to purchase mini-buses, trucks and other vehicles.
Basak Pardo Barangay Captain George Rama used the P763,300 to buy an Innova van. Since the vehicle was expensive, Cuenco said, the price difference was covered by money from Rama’s barangay funds.
The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas is looking into how P14.7 million of Cuenco’s pork barrel, which was released in 2006, was spent in the absence of specific projects.
Covered in the investigation was Eugenio Faelnar, former Guadalupe barangay chair and head of the Association of Barangay Councils, and Wilfredo Gallardo, chair of the bids and awards committee of Barangay Guadalupe.
The funds, which were released through Faelnar as project implementor, were supposedly used to purchase hybrid goats (P7.6 million), rambutan, durian and mango seedlings (P6.2 million), goat house (P600,000) and farm equipment (P245,000).
The goat house, constructed by Win Construction in the mountain village of Taptap, now stands empty. Its wooden floor is intact but its railings have rusted and its roof is dotted with holes.
Faelnar said he had returned the P7.6 million to the Department of Agriculture, which served as conduit foir funds for the projects, since he found the hybrid goats too expensive.
Cuenco told the Inquirer that the request to purchase hybrid goats from Australia had come from south district barangay heads who wanted hybrid goats since these were bigger and yielded more offspring than the local variety.
Initially, the barangay captains agreed that the goat house be built in Barangay Sudlon, located in the middle of the south district. But Cuenco claimed that Faelnar decided to construct it in Barangay Taptap, which is located in the north district.
He said he “blew my top” when he saw the goat house because it didn’t look like it cost P600,000. “I am not still in talking terms with Jing Jing (Faelnar) because of that,” he said.
He said he also called the DA office when he heard that the seedlings were overpriced but no one took his call. He said said he also wrote to DA, demanding that the P7.6 million earmarked for the hybrid goats be returned.
The heads of 10 villages—Basak Pardo, Bulacao, Inayawan, Kinasang-an, Labangon, Pahina San Nicolas, Punta Princesa, Quiot, Tisa and Mambaling—later asked him that the money be given to them to purchase vehicles.