Ex-DAR chief airs side on ‘pork’
Former Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said on Saturday the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation into his alleged role in a P220-million agrarian reform fund scam would show that he “was never part of any conspiracy to defraud government.”
The former official said he welcomed the Ombudsman’s investigation into the anomaly involving the funneling of agrarian reform and pork barrel funds to ghost projects in 2010 and 2011. He maintained he was innocent.
De los Reyes recalled the sequence of events which he said would show he was not complicit in the scam.
On March 25, 2013, he said the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) received an audit observation memorandum from the Commission on Audit (COA) identifying five nongovernmental organizations as recipients of fund transfers that had not yet been liquidated as of that date.
But as early as July 2012, or well before the DAR received the memo, the DAR’s Support Services Office (SSO) had already started its own inquiry into the matter, during which it was pointed out and confirmed that four of the five NGOs had failed to submit any report on the projects.
For this reason, then Support Services Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan sent reminder letters to the NGOs twice in 2012 instructing them to submit their reports on the projects for which they received the funding, he said.
De los Reyes said he immediately ordered an internal investigation into the matter and ordered officials to prepare cases against the questionable NGOs.
“These steps were instituted in conformity with the recommendation of the COA,” he said.
Additionally, DAR officials sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in locating the questionable NGOs, he said.
He then endorsed the matter to the Office of the President which is the disciplining authority for presidential appointees.TVJ
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