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COA: 35 lawmakers transferred P1.7-B ‘pork’ to NGOs

MANILA, Philippines - Thirty-five lawmakers, including three senators, specifically asked for the transfer of their pork barrel funds amounting to P1.7 billion to non-government organizations (NGOs).

The Commission on Audit (COA) report on Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) – official name of the pork barrel – for 2007 to 2009 listed three senators and 32 members of the House of Representatives whose funds were released to implementing agencies, but who requested that the money be transferred to NGOs.

The three senators are Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile.

Estrada gave P204.6 million to Pangkabuhayan Foundation, P90.4 million to Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI) and P172.2 million to Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (MAMPI), for a total of P467.2 million.

Revilla allocated P130.2 million to SDPFFI, P118.3 million to MAMPI and P106.5 million to Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, for a total of P355 million.

SDPFFI is one of the bogus foundations linked to fugitive businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

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Benhur Luy, a relative of Napoles who blew the whistle on the pork barrel scam, used to run SDPFFI.

Enrile, on the other hand, gave P96.8 million to Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation and P77.6 million to MAMPI, or a total of P174.4 million.

The three senators’ funds were released to National Agribusiness Corp., Technology Resource Center, National Livelihood Development Corp., and Zamboanga del Norte Rubber Estate Corp., which transferred them to NGOs upon the request of the three, the COA report said.

President Aquino is planning to abolish these state corporations for their involvement in the pork barrel scam.

Estrada, Revilla and Enrile accounted for nearly P1 billion of the P1.7–billion transfer to NGOs that the COA said were covered by specific requests from the lawmaker–funders.

There are hundreds of millions more in PDAF of the three senators that went to NGOs, but the COA did not say whether the recipient–agencies did the transfer on their own.

Estrada had said they were not supposed to check or know whether the NGO–recipients of their funds were bogus or not.

Revilla has denied endorsing any NGO as recipient of his funds, but the COA said it has proof to counter his claim.

Enrile said he did not know Napoles or any of the NGOs that received his funds.

The COA said Enrile “confirmed to have authorized his chief of staff to sign on his behalf.”

It said the unnamed chief of staff “confirmed signatures in the MOA but denied signatures in the certificate of acceptance and list of beneficiaries for projects” implemented by one foundation.

The 32 former and incumbent House members whose funds were transferred to various NGOs upon their request, according to the COA, are Rene Velarde of party–list group Buhay, P7.8 million; Nerissa Soon Ruiz of Cebu, P22 million; Marina Clarete of Mismis Occidental, P45.6 million;

Vicente Belmonte Jr. of Iligan City, P8.2 million; Rolando Uy of Cagayan de Oro City, P17.5 million; Danilo Lagbas of Misamis Oriental, P13.4 million; Niel Tupas Jr. of Iloilo, P17.5 million; Roberto Cajes of Bohol, P32.5 million; Maria Isabelle Climaco of Zamboanga City, P23.4 million;

Thomas Dumpit Jr. of La Union, P44.1 million; Isidro Ungab of Davao City, P38.3 million; the late Ignacio Arroyo of Negros Occidental, P20.3 million; Joseph Santiago of Catanduanes, P19.4 million; Manuel Agyao of Kalinga, P11.5 million; Edgar Valdez of party–list group APEC, P35.9 million; Rizalina Seachon–Lanete of Masbate, P31.7 million;

Conrado Estrella III of Pangasinan, P36.7 million; Adam Relson Jala of Bohol, P13.3 million; Prospero Nograles of Davao City, P60.1 million; Edgar Espinosa of Masbate, P24.1 million; Marcelino Teodoro of Marikina, P14.3 million; Del de Guzman of Marikina, P9.4 million; Jaime Lopez of Manila, P5.5 million; Mariano Piamonte Jr. of party–list group A–TEACHER, P15 million;

Elias Bulut Jr. of Apayao, P12.3 million; Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa, P8 million; Vincent Crisologo of Quezon City, P33 million; Arturo Robes of San Francisco del Monte, Bulacan, P25.4 million; Maria Teresa Bonoan–David of Manila, P35 million; Eduardo Zialcita of Parañaque, P17.5 million; Luis Asistio of Caloocan, P25 million; and Oscar Malapitan of Caloocan, P25.3 million.

The COA said the transfer of funds by recipient–state agencies and lawmakers to NGOs was illegal.

It said such transfer must be covered by an appropriation law or an ordinance as required by the Government Procurement Law.

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