Lawyer: Infant, dead people among ‘beneficiaries’ of Jinggoy Estrada-funded NGO
MANILA, Philippines—A graft-investigating officer found that names of a one-year-old boy and even dead people, were listed as beneficiaries of ghost livelihood projects worth P50 million in a desperate effort to amass public funds.
Lawyer Vic Escalante, a fact-finding investigator from the Office of the Ombudsman, revealed this in the bail petition hearing of Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada at the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division on Tuesday.
And the projects were allegedly funded by the detained senator’s pork barrel, as what Escalante’s team found in their investigation.
He told the court that Estrada’s staff and co-accused Pauline Labayen, signed the tripartite memorandum of agreement, indicating that the Senator disbursed his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to the spurious NGO project.
According to Escalante, the P50-million project was for the provinces of Pangasinan, Laguna, Compostela Valley, Surigao del Norte, Zamboanga del Norte, Agusan del Sur, and Surigao del Sur.
But in their visit at Umingan municipality in Pangasinan, municipal agriculturist Francisco Collado Jr. denied to Escalante’s team that he signed the delivery and acknowledgment receipts of the project materials, and the masterlist of beneficiaries.
The group then proceeded to the respective barangay (village) offices to verify the list, whether the names of the persons are actual residents.
“A number of, if not all Barangay officials, said that many of them (on the list) are not actual beneficiaries. Some have already died… some died even before the project,” he disclosed.
Beneficiaries also denied receiving livelihood kits and signing delivery receipts.
A father of a one-year-old boy in Pangasinan said that his son was also on the list.
While Prosecutor Manuel Soriano quizzed Escalante, Estrada’s counsels Jose Flaminiano and Sabino Acut Jr. took turns in interrupting the direct examination, insisting that Escalante’s testimonies are only hearsays.
This prompted Soriano to ask the Judges, led by Judge Roland Jurado, to allow only one counsel to raise any of the defense panel’s objection.
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