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NGO linked to Aquino sister denies touching DAP funds

/ 07:37 AM August 19, 2014
hapag-asa

Children benefiting from the Hapag-Asa Nutrition Program of Assisi Development Foundation (ADF), a nongovernment organization associated with the sister of President Aquino. The ADF claimed it did not touch any of the Disbursement Acceleration Program funds allocated by the National Dairy Authority to their joint milk feeding program. PHOTO FROM ASSISI-FOUNDATION.ORG

MANILA, Philippines–Assisi Development Foundation (ADF), a nongovernment organization (NGO) associated with the sister of President Aquino, is adamant that it did not touch any of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds allocated by the National Dairy Authority (NDA) to their joint milk feeding program.

“In September 2012, the ADF entered into a MOA (memorandum of agreement) with the NDA to jointly feed at least 53,800 children suffering from acute malnutrition. This activity will cost the NDA P51,648,000. No funds were to be coursed to the ADF. The ADF’s main role was in identifying the prospective beneficiaries of the program. The NDA was to directly pay farmer cooperatives for the milk that was to be procured. The program is to provide each enrolled child a P16 pack of milk for 60 days over three months,” ADF president Benjie Abadiano said in a statement.

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Abadiano was reacting to a report by the Commission on Audit (COA) that said the ADF cornered 22 percent of the P230 million in DAP funds that the NDA gave out to the milk-feeding programs of 51 proponents who included administration allies led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and almost all of the Makabayan bloc members in the 15th Congress.

P1.6 million to farmer cooperatives for milk that was given to 1,707 children in Libmanan, Camarines Sur, and Caraga/Pyagaguwan, Davao Oriental. To further augment this activity, the ADF through its

Hapag-Asa Integrated Nutrition Program will also provide the beneficiaries Vitameal and MannaPack hot meals amounting to P96 million, to be covered by the ADF and its partners without any funding from government,” Abadiano said.

Abad, Belmonte 

In its annual audit report on the NDA for 2013, the COA said P2.769 million had already been obligated, even though the project had not yet started. It also revealed that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad himself had endorsed the ADF for the NDA milk-feeding project, while the other 51 lawmakers were endorsed by Belmonte.

“We did not know the funds would come from the DAP when we signed the MOA in September 2012. When the funds were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, we told them we would not continue with the program anymore,” Abadiano said in a phone interview.

But Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. questioned why the government “favored” a foundation in which the President’s sister, Viel Aquino-Dee, was a vice chair and her husband, Richard Joseph Dee, a board member, and why the COA did not raise a red flag on the deal.

“Is it right to be endorsing funds to foundations of your relatives, in this case the President’s sister and in-laws? No matter how pure the intentions and how good the track record may be of Assisi Development Foundation, we cannot help but raise questions on the manner that the DAP funds were allocated and how the position of the presidency may have been used to favor one NGO,” Reyes said.

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Among the recipients of the DAP milk funds were Makabayan Representatives Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers, Emencia de Jesus of Gabriela, Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna, Rafael Mariano of Anak Pawis and Raymond Palatino of Kabataan. The Makabayan bloc has endorsed two impeachment complaints against President Aquino for the illegal use of the DAP.

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TAGS: Aquino sister, Assisi Development Foundation, Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), milk feeding program, NGO, presidential pork barrel, presidential sister, Viel Aquino-Dee
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