Marcos: I never funneled funds to fake NGOs
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. admitted engaging the services of Catherine Mae “Maya” Santos, an alleged “pork conduit,” but strongly denied funneling millions of pesos to any fake nongovernment organization (NGOs).
Marcos, in a statement issued on Tuesday, said that he engaged Santos’ services as a consultant but only until March this year.
He said Santos worked as a consultant with the congressional commission on science and technology and engineering from January 2012 to December 2012, and thereafter a consultant with the joint congressional oversight committee on cooperatives from January 2013 to June 2013.
But Marcos said Santos “ceased to be connected” to his office since March 2013.
“Ms. Santos was detailed to my office by the above committees during this period. However, in March 2013, she ceased to be connected to my office and I have not seen nor heard from her since,” he pointed out.
A report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer said that soon after Santos moved to Marcos’ office in 2011, Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc.(Mamfi), one of the fake NGOs controlled by alleged pork barrel scam operator Janet Lim Napoles received P24.25 million for livelihood projects in Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental supposedly endorsed by the senator.
Marcos expressed “shock and disbelief” that his name was again dragged into the “pork barrel” scam.
While he noted that the report was based solely on the affidavit of witness Marina Sula, a former employee of Napoles, the senator immediately asked his office to look into this new revelation.
Marcos said the initial investigation conducted by his office showed that:
— There was no document or record pertaining to any transaction or endorsement from his office involving Mamfi for any period, including the year 2011.
— There was no document or record pertaining to a PDAF release in the amount of P24.25 million to the provinces of Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental. PDAF is Priority Development Assistance Fund, also known as “pork barrel” funds.
– Based on the website of the Department of Budget and Management, the only project funded through his PDAF in the Davao area in 2011 was the construction/ improvement of a drainage canal in Barangay Rafael Castillo, Agdao, Davao City, wherein the sum of PhP 300,000–was allocated to the Department of Public Works and Highways (Davao City District Engineering Office) as the implementing agency.
Marcos reiterated that he was not in cahoots with Napoles.
“Let me reiterate for the nth time that I have never met her nor have I ever authorized any person to deal with her or any non-governmental organization which she allegedly has control of – whether on my behalf or on behalf of my office,” Marcos said.
“I am sick and tired of my name being dragged into this controversy. I never even knew that there was such a thing called DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) until COA wrote to me in September this year. And after hearing all these horror stories about the misuse of the PDAF and DAP through the years, I once again call that it be abolished once and for all,” said the senator.
He was referring to the additional “pork barrel” funds that were allegedly given to senators through the DAP who voted to impeach then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Marcos cautioned the public to be wary of the “obvious attempts of certain quarters to give piece-meal information to the media in order to satisfy their feeding frenzy.”
“Trial by publicity does not involve any trial. It is what it is: it’s a publicity stunt,” he said.
“I encourage the media to be more responsible in the way they report. While it sells papers, inaccurate sensationalism does us all an injustice when it just serves to muddle the issues.”
Instead, the senator pointed to reports indicating that a syndicate has been involved in “shady” transactions involving the misuse of government funds for over 10 years now, and that the people behind this scam have implicated several other “unwitting” members of the legislature.
He said the reports also indicated that the scam would not have been able to continue for 10 years without the connivance and cooperation of several individuals in some government agencies, and that the law is clear that legislators can only endorse projects through various implementing agencies, “hence, the money never passes through us.”