DA to release own report on pork barrel projects next week – Alcala
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture stopped accepting pork barrel funds for two years, but Secretary Proceso Alcala said the practice resumed in August 2012 upon the request of lawmakers and the advice of the Department of Budget and Management.
The DA had processed the release of P44 million in priority development assistance funds of lawmakers to the Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KMFI), a non-government organization linked to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, who allegedly controlled a web of NGOs that channeled pork barrel to private pockets.
After the Napoles issue broke out, the DA began an investigation into the PDAF-funded projects that went to the KMFI. The report would be released next week, Alcala said on Thursday when he appeared before the House of Representatives to defend his agency’s proposed P79 billion 2014 budget.
Alcala, upon the questioning of militant lawmakers, said on Thursday, that in his first two years at the DA, he had shunned the pork barrel funds.
“From July of 2010 to August of 2012, we did not allow the PDAF to be coursed through the DA because the guidelines weren’t clear to us,” he said.
But he said that when he faced Congress, he was told that he could not continue the practice because lawmakers had legitimate programs intended to help farmers. The Department of Budget and Management had a similar view, he said.
“We were advised by the DBM that we cannot just disallow the coursing of the PDAF through the department,” he said.
“We saw that there were valid reasons. What we did was put up safety nets,” he added.
He said he instituted a program for the proper accreditation that would receive the PDAF funds. Releases of the funds were also made in tranches when the amount exceeded P300,000. The initial releases had to be liquidated first before the release of the next tranche, he said.
“We have an internal audit. We validate each tranche,” he said.
In the case of KMFI, P83 million was allocated for it but only P44 million was released, he said.
As to the KMFI’s Napoles connection, Alcala said the DA did not see this then. He noted that in 2012, the alleged scam involving Napoles had not yet surfaced.
The DA also has papers from the Securities and Exchange Commission saying that this NGO was in good standing, which was why the DA had accredited it.
Alcala said six lawmakers channeled funds to the KMFI, though he only named five on Thursday. They were Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, An Waray party list Rep. Neil Montejo, Masbate Rep. Scott Davies Lanete, former Camarines Sur Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali.
Ungab, who chairs the House appropriations committee, asked Alcala during the hearing whether the projects he funded were implemented or were ghost activities.
Alcala replied that the projects were fully implemented, validated not just by statements under oath but also by pictures. These were fully liquidated, he added.