House approves bill empowering SEC to root out fake NGOs | Inquirer News

House approves bill empowering SEC to root out fake NGOs

/ 05:16 PM June 12, 2015

In the aftermath of the alleged pork barrel scam, the House of Representatives has approved a bill giving powers to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate bogus nongovernment organizations (NGO) which may be used to pillage public funds.

House Bill 5779 titled “An Act granting the SEC the authority to monitor and investigate NGOs, foundations and similar organizations” seeks to give the SEC the power to summon witnesses, issue subpoena duces tecum, administer oaths, and take testimony of witnesses in its mandate to root out bogus NGOs registered with the commission.

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Laguna Rep. Joaquin Chipeco Jr., one of the bill’s authors, said NGOs have been used by unscrupulous individuals and corrupt politicians to pillage public funds.

READ: Pork barrel scam alarms legit NGOs

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He referred to the alleged pork barrel scam, by which public funds were coursed through the bogus NGOs linked to accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles only to be implemented in ghost projects for kickbacks.

“While the 1987 Constitution has laudably enshrined people’s organizations, cooperatives, and NGOs as the fleshing out of the ‘people power’ legacy of the Filipino nation, it was not long before a number of these organizations were corrupted by predatory individuals in collusion with certain self-serving politicians,” Chipeco said.

“Registered as non-stock, non-profit organizations, these fraudulent organizations have put honest-to-goodness foundations and NGOs as whole into disrepute,” he added.

READ: Bill empowering SEC to probe bogus NGOs hurdles committee level

Under the bill, the SEC may, upon its initiative or upon a sworn application of a person or an organization, investigate NGOs “where there exists probable cause to believe that such organizations are committing or attempting or conspiring to commit, or participating in or facilitating an act in violation of existing laws, rules and regulations.”

The SEC may seek the assistance of any government agency to fulfill its new mandate, the bill said. It should also furnish law-enforcement authorities the results of its investigation.

The commission is tasked to include in its next budget the funding needed to upgrade its personal services and institutionalize computer-assisted review of NGOs, the bill said.

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Congress is tasked to ensure the budget in the General Appropriations Act for the SEC to fulfill its new investigative powers, the bill said.

The authors of the bill are Chipeco, Batangas Rep. Sonny Collantes, A Teachers Rep. Julieta Cortuna, Davao city Rep. Isidro Ungab, Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua, Davao Oriental Rep. Thelma Almario, Manila Rep. Maria Zenaida Angping, Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil, Misamis Occidental Rep. Jorge Almonte, Cebu city Rep. Raul Del Mar, Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing, Davao city Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, Abante Mindanao Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr., Tarlac Rep. Susan Yap, and Pampanga Rep. Joseller Guiao.

The Commission on Audit, in a comprehensive report, was the first to raise red flags on the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) transactions involving 82 NGOs from 2007 to 2009. The report later served as the basis for the filing of plunder and graft charges against the pork scam-tainted suspect.

READ: Deluge of pork scam cases lowers Sandigan’s disposal rate

Detained for plunder over the scam are senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, as well as former representatives Rizalina Seachon Lanete and Edgar Valdez.

The accused pork scam architect Napoles, meanwhile, is serving life sentence after being convicted for the serious illegal detention of Benhur Luy, the principal whistleblower and Napoles’ entrusted finance officer who turned his back against Napoles and exposed the lid on the scam.

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TAGS: House of Representatives, Janet Lim Napoles, Legislation, nongovernment organizations, pork barrel scam, Securities and Exchange Commission
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