Ex-agrarian reform head: Ties from DAR to HouseBy Gil C. Cabacungan, Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Old habits die hard for former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman.
As then head of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Pangandaman allegedly funneled P900 million from the Malampaya Fund in 2009 to bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) of Janet Lim-Napoles, alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Two years later, he continued dealing with Napoles and one of her NGOs as a member of the House of Representatives in the 15th Congress.
This week the National Bureau of Investigation is set to file a plunder case against those linked to the misuse of the funds that came from the royalties in the operation of the Malampaya gas project off Palawan province.
Last week, the NBI filed plunder, malversation and graft charges against three senators, five former House members and 30 others, including Napoles, in the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam.
Data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed Pangandaman channeled in 2011 at least P15 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as party-list representative of Kasosyo Producer-Consumer Exchange Association (Aa-Kasosyo) to Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KMFI).
Pork barrel scam whistle-blowers Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas had identified KMFI as one of the 20 dubious NGOs that Napoles had set up.
The DBM disbursed P15 million of Pangandaman’s PDAF to livelihood projects that targeted micro-entrepreneurs and small farmers in select towns and municipalities, according to a Statement of Allocation Release Order BMB-G.11-T000001245 dated June 9, 2011.
The project supposedly had 776 beneficiaries who received organic high-value harvest packages valued at P15,450 each. It was implemented under the watch of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.
In his testimony before the Senate blue ribbon committee on Sept. 12, Luy, a former employee of Napoles and star witness of the NBI, said a lawmaker got kickbacks equivalent to 50 percent of a project cost funded by his or her PDAF.
He said Napoles received 40 percent and implementing agencies, 10 percent.
Pangandaman became congressman in July 2011, taking the place of his brother, Solaiman Pangandaman, who vacated his post as Aa-Kasosyo representative.
In the misuse of the Malampaya Fund under the DAR in 2009, Pangandaman also chose KMFI, led by John Raymund de Asis, as one of 12 Napoles NGOs in supposedly providing services to agrarian reform communities to help them recover from the losses brought about by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” and Typhoon “Pepeng” that hit Luzon in 2009.
KMFI received P75 million from the Malampaya Fund from the DAR but an internal audit showed that none of the money reached the intended beneficiaries.
Ninety-seven checks amounting to P900 million were issued to 12 NGOs allegedly controlled by Napoles.
In a phone interview on Friday, 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 had submitted to the NBI.
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 Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Narciso Nieto and the heads of the NGOs in the tripartite memorandum of agreement for the distribution of the P900 million were genuine but those of local government officials “were forged.”
All remitted to Napoles
The local government units (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.
The NGOs and the amounts they received were 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.
Asked if Pangandaman and Nieto were involved in the scam, Suñas said: “Based on the vouchers received by the NGO, they were also the signatories. We do not know what the agreement between them and Ma’am Janet was.”
Levito Baligod, counsel of the whistle-blowers, said all the Malampaya Fund documents from the LGUs “were all forged.”
Plunder case, validation
“Despite the declaration of the whistle-blowers that the mayors’ signatures were all forged, the need to have these authenticated is still necessary,” Baligod said.
He added that the “documents forged were from request letters to acknowledgement receipts, including official receipts issued by the foundations.”
At least 64 mayors have filed their affidavits with the NBI to confirm the whistle-blowers statement that they did not receive money from the gas funds, according to Baligod.
Pangandaman’s dealings with Napoles and her NGOs preceded the misuse of the Malampaya Fund.
In 2007, Pangandaman selected seven Napoles NGOs that were supposed to distribute P200 million in agrarian reform fund to beneficiaries. The supposed beneficiaries denied having signed or received anything from the NGOs.
The seven NGOs were Philippine Agri and Social Economic Development Foundation, Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Agrikultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation and Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation.