MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the abolition of three government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) linked to the P10-billion pork barrel scam—Philippine Forest Corp. (PhilForest), ZNAC Rubber Estate (ZREC) and National Agri-Business Corp. (Nabcor).
A Malacañang spokesperson noted that the three GOCCs had been implicated as “conduits of fake PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations.”
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the decision was based on financial viability, adding that the three agencies neither fulfilled the purposes for which they were created nor had a tangible social impact.
She said the three GOCCs might not be the last to be abolished.
“More GOCCs may be abolished as the GCG (Governance Commission for GOCCs) fulfills its mandate to rationalize the government-owned and -controlled corporations of the country,” she said.
The decision of the President to abolish the three GOCCs was in pursuit of “maximizing efficiency and promoting accountability.”
“The decision to abolish them was based on a financial viability and relevance to national development plans study conducted by the Governance Commission for GOCCs, which is the regulatory agency for such corporations,” Valte said.
She said that from the start of his administration, Mr. Aquino had pursued a policy of promoting efficiency in government corporations, “to ensure that they serve as a means for fostering national development and not as a conduit or facilitator of selfish agendas and crimes.”
“Seeing that the three agencies neither fulfill the purposes for which they were created, nor had a tangible social impact, and that furthermore, they were no longer financially viable, the President gave his clearance for the formation of a technical working group to wind down operations and transfer relevant functions and operations (to other offices), as well as to attend to the separation pay for employees in keeping with Civil Service rules,” Valte said.
However, she stressed that any separation packages would be withheld for those found to have committed graft or other corrupt practices.
Nabcor and ZREC are among the five state entities that Malacañang wanted abolished in the wake of the misuse of PDAF, the graft-ridden pork barrel which financed the pet projects of lawmakers.
The others are PhilForest, an agro-forestry arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); Technology Resource Center (TRC) of the Department of Science and Technology; and the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC) of Land Bank of the Philippines.
It was Environment Secretary Ramon Paje who earlier disclosed that President Aquino had asked the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel to study the abolition of the five state entities.
Paje said Aquino was “extremely disappointed” with how the pork barrel scam continued into his administration, particularly with the release of the P428.5 million PDAF of two senators (Gringo Honasan and Lito Lapid) and 24 members of the House of Representatives to the five state companies.
The P428.5-million pork barrel was released from October 2010 to December 2011 to nine fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs), which do not belong to the network of bogus NGOs put up by detained Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of a P10-billion scam.
Apart from being linked to the scam, Nabcor has incurred huge debts from the Agriculture Enhancement Competitiveness Fund that it could no longer recover, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said.
A party-list representative, however, wondered why NLDC was not among those abolished.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the NLDC was used to funnel P1 billion in pork barrel funds into seven fake NGOs reportedly controlled by Napoles from 2008 to 2012.
Colmenares noted that this was no different from the three state firms that were ordered abolished. With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan