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Palace agency on Muslim affairs under probe on PDAF link

/ 04:00 PM March 24, 2014

President Benigno Aquino III AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Monday said he has already ordered the investigation on the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos’ (NCMF) alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The NCMF is the first agency under the Office of the President to be linked to the misuse of the PDAF.

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“I have directed the concerned individuals…[and] at the same time the Secretary of Budget and Management and the Cabinet secretary to submit to them a thorough report on this particular issue,” Aquino said in an ambush interview at Malacañang.

The President said they would first clarify the findings of the Commission on Audit on how funds coursed through the NCMF went to non-government organizations, some of which were linked to alleged PDAF scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

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“I want to make sure exactly what went to whom, and why was it coursed through the NCMF,” he said.

Aquino admitted that he was not aware that the NCMF was an implementing agency for the PDAF.

“To be perfectly candid about it, there are so many functions embodied in their charter which I reviewed today; and I was not clearly aware or immediately aware that they were a conduit or an implementing agency for various PDAF projects,” he said.

The President said the NCMF, which replaced the Office on Muslim Affairs, was among the agencies helping out in the government’s peace negotiations with Muslim insurgents.

Media reports said lawmakers, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Gregorio Honasan, allocated more than P514 million to the NCMF in 2012.

Enrile allocated P25 million worth of projects to Livedures Foundation Inc. while Honasan gave P30 million to Focus on Development Goals Foundation, Inc. Both NGOs were previously recommended by COA for blacklisting.

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