COA: P200M pork projects questionable
MANILA, Philippines–Roughly P200 million in pork barrel funds of a senator, seven party-list representatives and several allies of the Aquino administration that were coursed through the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAFC) from 2012 to 2013 were awarded to dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs), the Commission on Audit (COA) said.
In its annual audit report of the NAFC released last week, the COA said projects under the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) were implemented without bidding and proof that the recipients benefited from livelihood projects involving vegetables and earthworms.
The lawmakers who picked the NAFC as the conduit for their PDAF projects were accused pork plunderer Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile (P45 million); A-Teacher Rep. Mariano Piamonte (P10 million); Kalinga Rep. Abigail Faye C. Ferriol (P12 million); A-Teacher Rep. Julieta R. Cortuna (P3 million); Cibac Rep. Sherwin Tugna (P2 million); An-Waray Rep. Neil Benedict Montejo (P5 million); Abamin Rep. Maximo Rodriguez (P5 million); Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo N. Bataoil (P8 million); Cagayan Rep. Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso (P11 million);
Surigao Rep. Francisco T. Matugas (P9 million); Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo V. Umali (P4.4 million); Masbate Rep. Scott Davies Lanete (P15 million); Bukidnon Rep. Florencio Flores (P6 million); former Iglesia ni Cristo Alagad Rep. Rodante D. Marcoleta (P15 million); former Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas (P9 million); former Misamis Occidental Rep. Loreto Leo S. Ocampos (P10 million); and former Lanao del Sur Rep. Mohammed Hussein Pangandaman (P30 million).
‘Based on solons’ requests’
“The PDAF allocations were transferred to NAFC (in 2012) on the basis of written requests made by the various legislators to the DA (Department of Agriculture) secretary purportedly to facilitate the implementation of their projects,” the COA said.
The COA said the PDAF allocations were channeled to Gabay at Pag-Asa ng Masa Foundation, Inc. (GPMFI); (owned by Godofrode Roque, a rival pork barrel operator of Janet Lim-Napoles); Maharlikang Lipi Foundation Inc. (MLFI); Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation (a Napoles NGO); and Anak Bukid Producers Cooperative.
The COA said these NGOS “were not among those identified in the GAA (General Appropriations Act) as implementing arms of the different PDAF projects.”
The COA said that the PDAF releases were not identified in the priority projects of NAFC’s work and financial plan.
“There was no bidding conducted in the selection of NGOs to implement livelihood projects but instead, negotiated procurement was resorted to. The chosen project implementers were the NGOs/cooperative recommended/endorsed by the legislators. Verification disclosed that the PDAF allocations were transferred to the specified NGOs of the legislators based on their written request of the latter to NAFC,” said the COA, which noted that the NAFC could not even explain how the NGOs were chosen.
No proof of effectiveness
“There was no proof that NAFC evaluated the viability and effectiveness of project proposals submitted by the NGOs. Factors such as the financial capability and availability of space or locations/place of dwellings that will affect the ability of the beneficiaries to sustain any livelihood project were not considered or included in the evaluation,” the COA said.
These shortcomings made the transactions illegal, the agency said. The COA noted that only P114.56 million of the P154 million pork earmarked by the representatives were released. Enrile’s P45 million was fully released to his chosen local government units (LGUs).
The COA has ordered NAFC Executive Director Ariel Cayanan, a protégé of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, “to render satisfactory explanation” for these transgressions.
The COA also questioned the lack of legal basis for the transfer in October 2012 of Enrile’s P45-million PDAF to Bulacan, Bulacan: Dinalupihan, Bataan; San Antonio, Nueva Ecija; and Umingan, Pangasinan for organic farming projects in these towns.
Enrile had originally asked the DA to designate the NAFC as conduit for those funds in October 2011 with the NAFC taking responsibility for entering into an agreement with the chosen NGO of Enrile and assessing that NGOs capability to handle the projects.
But 10 months later, Enrile asked Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to cancel his previous request to tap the NAFC as conduit and instead, release the funds directly to the town officials.
The NAFC, however, ignored Enrile and proceeded to give the funds to the towns. The NAFC reasoned that it proceeded with the fund deployment because “it will be circuitous if they will return the funds to the DA which will be eventually transferred by the DA to the said LGUs.”
The COA also highlighted the PDAF projects of two lawmakers—Marcoleta and Piamonte—involving the distribution of vermicomposting and vegetable gardening starter kits.
The COA found these projects a waste of government money as they failed to provide additional income to recipients.
Marcoleta transferred P13.997 million from the PDAF to barangays in Bulacan, Pampanga,Tarlac, Cavite and Rizal from January 2012 to July 9 last year.
Piamonte gave P8.99 million for barangays in Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental and Zamboanga City from April 2012 to November 2012. All of these pork projects were handled by their handpicked NGO, GPMFI.
The COA also asked the NAFC to return to the Bureai of Treasury the bulk of the P435.545-million guaranty fund deposited in a Philippine National Bank account as only a miniscule amount, or P16,683 of the supposed motorcycle loan program for council members, was actually lent out; and immediately account for P1.595 billion in total unliquidated advances to national government agencies, state-owned corporations and NGOs over the last 35 years (roughly two-thirds of these funds were disbursed in the last two to five years).
Originally posted: 10:20 pm | Sunday, September 14th, 2014
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