COA asks state rubber firm execs to return P4.7-M pork
The Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered officials of the defunct Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) to return the P4.71-million financial assistance sourced from the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel of former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.
In a three-page decision, the COA denied the petitions of ZREC president Salvador Salacup and treasurer Eduardo Nolasco to be relieved from accountability.
State auditors in 2014 disallowed the financial assistance released to Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (PFI) for the training of farmers in Lamitan, Basilan, because the ZREC officials failed to submit the supporting documents for the transaction.
No supporting documents
The required documents include the memorandum of agreement between ZREC and PFI, the nongovernment organization’s disclosure of businesses, approved project proposals, disbursement vouchers and PFI’s liquidation report.
“Without the required documents, the transaction is irregular since the expenditure was incurred without adhering to established rules, regulations and procedural guidelines,” read the decision.
The COA added that Salacup and Nolasco should be held liable for the irregularities. The two just “cannot rely on the assumption that the staff and officers of ZREC have properly performed their duties,” it said.
It also said the endorsement of Estrada’s office for the PFI project did not automatically make the deal valid.
“They cannot also assume that the legislator’s endorsement of the project is valid because the implementation of the project is an executive function,” the decision read.
Then President Benigno Aquino III approved in 2014 the abolition of ZREC, a government corporation under the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other agencies linked to the misuse of pork barrel allocations.
According to the COA’s 2011 audit report, ZREC received a total of P201 million from the DA and released P194.97 million to the little-known PFI from 2009 to 2010.
More than half of the funds, or P106.7 million received by PFI, came from Estrada, P74.69 million from former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, while P9.7 million and P3.88 million came from former Sen. Bong Revilla and former Buhay Rep. Rene Velarde, respectively.
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