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NGOs linked to Napoles got over P1-B from senators: COA chief

(The Philippine Star) - August 29, 2013 - 5:50pm

MANILA, Philippines - Four senators channeled over P1 billion of their funds to several questionable non-government organizations (NGOs) that are linked to Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam.

During the Senate probe on the pork barrel scam, Commission on Audit (COA) chair Grace Pulido Tan said the lawmakers or their representatives sought the transfer of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocated to implementing agencies to NGOs.

Tan said a proof that lawmakers identify which NGOs get an allocation of their PDAF is a letter attached in the disbursement voucher indicating the transfer of funds from the agency to the organizations.

She detailed her agency's special audit report which identified the lawmakers as Senators Bong Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Gringo Honasan. The four have since denied the allegations.

The NGOs linked to Napoles that supposedly received pork barrel include:

  • Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (AEPFFI)
  • Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation (APMFI)
  • Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development (CARED) Foundation
  • Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc (MAMFI)
  • People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation (POPDFI)
  • Philippine Agri and Social Development Foundation Inc.
  • Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc. (PSDFI)
  • Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI)

The COA chief said the transfer of funds from implementing agencies to the NGOs was deemed illegal.

"In our opinion, wala kami nakitang batas o ordinansa na nagbibigay authorization para sa paglipat ng pondo from government agency to private corporations like NGOs," Tan said during the televised press briefing.

"If you look at the General Appropriations Act on PDAF, nakatakda kung sinong implementing agency ang mag-carry out ng proyekto then it stops there," she added.

She said under the Government Procurement Act, funds allocated for agencies could be transferred to NGOs only with appropriations in marking.

'Pattern'

Tan also revealed that on the basis of their report, they saw a "pattern" with the same NGOs, implementing agencies and lawmakers appearing in their report.

"Merong pattern but I'll leave it to the investigating panel of DOJ and Ombudsman to determine if there's conspiracy," she said.

An investigating panel headed by Tan, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and have been formed to investigate the scam.

Tan said because of the seemingly unusual "pattern," she ordered all state auditors to include PDAF in the audit focus.

"Pinagbilinan ko mga auditor na isama sa audit focus ang PDAF. We ask them to be more meticulous. Sabi ko, makialam kayo, tignan ninyo," she said.

Jinggoy, et al inhibit

Senators Estrada, Enrile, Revilla and Honasan recused themselves from Friday's probe.

"Being one of those whose name has been mentioned in connection with the pork barrel issue, I feel compelled to excuse myself from participating in these proceedings," said Estrada.

He explained that his presence during the investigation may be conceived as "deterring the resource persons from providing relevant information" or may be perceived as "impeding the free-flowing discussions among the participants"

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano urged these senators to attend the proceedings so that they could shed light on the issue.

"Ang fear ko ay sa media magkasagutan. They're welcome here and ma-confront ang gumawa ng report. Their presence is not to impede but rather shed light on this. There's nothing on the rules that keeps them from asking questions. 'Yung mga kasamahan natin will have a chance to look at it and confirm or deny," Cayetano said.

AGRI AND ECONOMIC PROGRAM AGRICULTURA PARA COUNTRYWIDE AGRI AND RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DURING THE SENATE FARMERS FOUNDATION FOUNDATION GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT ACT GRACE PULIDO TAN NGOS
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