Return my pork to nat’l treasury, Fuentebella tells DA
MANILA, Philippines—Former Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella on Thursday pressed the Department of Agriculture (DA) to return to the national treasury 85 percent of his unused pork barrel funds in 2011 and for the supposed beneficiary to return the 15 percent or P750,000, that was purportedly used for the department’s high value crops development program.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Fuentebella lamented that his name was unnecessarily dragged in the pork barrel scandal “for something I did not do.”
“I should not have been dragged into this mess because I neither requested nor endorsed the use of that P750,000. In fact, I knew nothing about it until reports came out,” Fuentebella said.
“How can I endorse something I absolutely knew nothing about?” he asked, referring to the 15 percent of his P5 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that was channeled by the DA to the Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc., a nongovernment organization (NGO), without his authorization.
Fuentebella also denied knowing or having any link with the NGO.
The P750,000 represented 15 percent of Fuentebella’s 2011 PDAF totaling P5 million under the Statement of Allotment Release Order (Saro) No. BMB-G-11-T000000-377 dated April 27, 2011.
Fuentebella’s lawyer wrote Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to effect the return of the entire 100 percent of his PDAF under the said Saro to the national treasury.
“Congressman Fuentebella has never authorized anyone nor consented to anyone signing on his behalf or for himself any proposal, memorandum of agreement, endorsement or any other document, by himself or in conjunction with any nongovernment organization relative to the use of said Saro,” wrote lawyer Jose Miguel Palarca.
Palarca said government rules prohibited advance payment for services or goods not yet delivered.
He said his client questioned the initial release of the 15 percent or P750,000 from the said Saro for “want of factual and legal basis.”
Fuentebella said that Alcala himself admitted in a certification dated Sept. 3, 2013, that the DA was investigating the matter after the former congressman of Camarines Sur province denied knowledge of the said transaction.
In a letter to Fuentebella dated Aug. 15, 2013, lawyer Irene D.T. Alogoc, the DA’s director of the Internal Audit Service, took note of Fuentebella’s lack of endorsement of the fund release as required in the validation procedure.
“My PDAF utilization has always been transparent and above board in my long years of serving the people as a member of Congress representing the 4th District of Camarines Sur,” said Fuentebella.
“I, thus, share our people’s rage and desire to get to the bottom of the allegations that the PDAF of some lawmakers have been diverted and/or misused,” he added.
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