Enrile letter to COA authorized Reyes to act as his ‘pork’ agent, Sandiganbayan told
MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile wrote the Commission on Audit (COA) in 2012 to confirm that he had authorized his chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes and her deputy as his representatives in business involving his pork barrel, a senior COA official told the Sandiganbayan on Friday.
COA Assistant Commissioner Susan Garcia also testified that Enrile used his pork barrel to fund projects of foundations not identified with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
In the resumption of the hearing on Napoles’ bail petition in her plunder case, Garcia also said that two mayors had denied receiving livelihood packages for their municipalities from foundations supported by Enrile’s allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Garcia, head of the COA Special Audits Office, said Enrile sent a letter to the commission on March 21, 2012, confirming that he authorized Reyes and her deputy, Jose Antonio Evangelista, as his representatives in any transactions involving his PDAF.
Enrile also informed the COA that the signatures on the documents pertaining to the endorsement of Napoles-linked foundations as recipients of his pork barrel were those of Reyes and Evangelista, Garcia said.
Besides financing six Napoles-linked dummy foundations, Garcia said Enrile, 90, endorsed other foundations to distribute agricultural kits to farmers using his pork barrel.
“There is a project given to Pangkabuhayan Foundation,” Garcia said during her direct examination in the antigraft court’s Third Division handled by Special Prosecutor Annie Cabelis.
She said this was among the findings of the special audit conducted by a team of state auditors in 2010 on the PDAF allocations of more than 100 legislators on orders from then COA Chair Reynaldo Villar.
But Associate Justice Samuel Martires called Cabelis’ attention, pointing out that Garcia should not provide information on the operations of foundations that were not included in the complaint filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Enrile.
“We’re not interested in other NGOs (nongovernment organizations). You will just be wasting the time of the court because that’s irrelevant and immaterial to the criminal information pending before this court,” Martires said.
Not pork barrel queen
Seizing the opportunity, Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David asked the court if they could get copies of the documents pertaining to the operations of the foundations not named in the complaint against Enrile.
“With those documents, we will prove that our client is not the pork barrel queen,” David said.
Napoles and Reyes are detained in a jail at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City. Both are also accused in the plunder and graft cases against Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada in the Sandiganbayan involving the pork barrel scam.
In her testimony, Garcia said the livelihood kits supposedly purchased by the six Napoles-controlled foundations out of Enrile’s pork barrel were provided by only three suppliers—TNU Trading, Ditchon Trading and MMRC Trading.
Owned by Napoles
Principal witness Benhur Luy previously testified that Napoles owned TNU and other trading companies that supposedly supplied the products that the bogus foundations were supposed to distribute to the farmers.
Accused of embezzling nearly P173 million of his PDAF, Enrile assigned his pork barrel to Napoles’ foundations, which were supposed to implement 14 projects in different parts of the country.
The projects were coursed through three implementing agencies—the Technological Resource Center, the National Livelihood Development Corp. and the National Agribusiness Corp.—which also served as conduits for the release of Enrile’s PDAF funds.
During the special audit, Garcia said the auditors were able to locate TNU’s office in a small apartment in Sangandaan, Caloocan City, raising suspicions about the legality of its operations.
She said documents submitted to the COA by the Business Processing and Licensing Office of the Caloocan City government also showed that TNU declared gross sales of over P5 million from 2008 to 2009.
At the time, she said the trading company was awarded Enrile-sponsored projects worth P248 million.
Not fertilizer maker
Besides issuing spurious official receipts for the fertilizer it supplied, TNU, the auditors discovered, was not a licensed fertilizer manufacturer, as shown by a letter issued by the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, Garcia said.
“The [office] of TNU alone showed that it was not capable of carrying out big projects worth P248 million,” she said.
But Martires said it was possible that TNU kept the fertilizer and other goods it sold to the foundations in another place.
“If you judge something based on appearance, that could be misleading. You should not use appearance alone in making conclusions,” Martires told Garcia.
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