Even the dead got Malampaya funds
Unscrupulous people from bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) had submitted at least 12 names of dead recipients of assistance from the alleged scam involving the misuse and abuse of the P900-million Malampaya Fund, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).
A 2012 COA special audit report on the fund, released on Dec. 21, said the ghost beneficiaries were among the 9,862 names submitted by NGOs, which were not named, as supposed recipients of agricultural inputs that included farming tools, fertilizers, safety gear and seeds.
The funds were funneled through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) because the farm assistance projects were intended for agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) such as former tenant farmers who have been awarded ownership of land they were tilling.
Of the dead beneficiaries, 3 supposedly came from Atok in Benguet, 12 from Umingan in Pangasinan and 7 from other provinces in the Ilocos and Central Luzon regions.
The report also said only 89 names had been validated to be legitimate ARBs based on the audit, others were legitimate farmers but not ARBs while the bulk were not registered as residents or voters in the towns they were listed in.
The COA then scoffed at DAR officials for insisting that the department observed the rules in disbursement of funds.
Accordingly, the initial batch of letter-requests seeking agricultural assistance for ARBs came from mayors whose towns were greatly affected by Typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in 2009. This was followed by subsequent requests for additional assistance for farmer-beneficiaries in the next two days.
On October 22, 2009, then DAR Undersecretary Narciso Nieto also sent a letter-request to the Department of Budget and Management seeking the release of P900 million for the farmers.
No thorough evaluation
“…(T)here could have been no thorough evaluation that could be undertaken on the requests in such a short period of three days, especially considering that these LGUs (local government units) were located in different provinces of Luzon,” the COA report said.
The P900 million were then split into sums of 10 or less and awarded to the 12 questionable NGOs which signed a memorandum of agreement with the DAR for the purchase of said agricultural supplies.
The COA said that the Government Procurement Law and COA Circular No. 76-41 (1976) prohibited the practice of breaking down the transactions into smaller amounts to go around the rules.
“This amount (P10 million) is the limit of the signing authority of the Undersecretary of DAR, and appears to be the only plausible reason for the splitting,” COA pointed out.
It said that Nieto claimed he merely acted on instructions issued by then DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman.
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