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Palace told: Explain abolition of GOCC in ‘pork’ scam

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court has ordered Malacañang to explain the abolitionof the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC), one of the government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) implicated in the pork barrel fund scam.

Justices of the SC directed Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) chairman Cesar Villanueva to submit comment to the petition filed last week by the displaced employees of NLDC.

The respondents were given 10 days from receipt of notice to comply with the order.

In their petition, the 69 NLDC employees sought issuance of a status quo ante order enjoining the implementation of Memorandum Order 85 issued by President Aquino last Sept. 2 that ordered the abolition of the agency.

The petitioners through lawyer Remigio Danao also asked the SC to declare as invalid and unconstitutional the assailed order for violation of their rights.

Invoking their right to employment, the NLDC employees cited the benefits they stand to lose because of the Palace order.

NLDC is a GOCC that provides wholesale lending and technical assistance to microfinance institutions (MFIs) that extend microfinance services to qualified households.

Malacañang ordered its abolition, upon recommendation of the GCG, because the NLDC supposedly has “overlapping functions” with other GOCCs such as the Philippine Postal Savings Bank and the Small Business Corp (SBC).

The GCG said that all three agencies “offer similar credit products and capacity building services.”

Under MO 85, all assets and liabilities of NLDC shall be transferred to the LandBank of the Philippines, while the functions and portfolios shall be absorbed by LBP and SBC.

The LBP will then create a special window for the provision of microfinance services.

The NLDC was earlier linked to the PDAF controversy uncovered by the Commission on Audit (COA), which found that the corporation had questionable releases in pork barrel funds between 2007 and 2009.

Its former officials and employees were among those charged with plunder and graft cases filed before the Sandiganbayan, along with three senators and alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

The NLDC employees are now holding vigil at their main office in the Corporate Plaza in Makati to pray that the Supreme Court rules in favor of the workers’ petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the abolition of the NLDC.

‘NLDC documents may disappear’

The employees have also expressed concern that documents on the pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program  (DAP) still stored in the agency’s office could disappear once their office is closed.

The documents that could be used as evidence in the pork barrel scam cases have been placed in boxes, as the agency prepares to turn over their assets to the LandBank.

The documents that could be used as evidence against lawmakers might soon disappear after Malacañang ordered the SBC to take over the functions of the NLDC.

Dante de Guzman, president of the NLDC Employees Association, told The STAR that the documents included vouchers, project proposals and other papers that covered the period from 2008 up to 2011 and involve more than 100 senators and congressmen.

“We have no idea how much money was involved because we were used as conduit in the implementation of the projects,” he said.

De Guzman said their office, a self sustaining government-owned corporation, has turned over P300 million to the National Treasury and their assets rose from P1 billion in 2008 to P5 billion this year.

“We have no budget but we are generating funds from our livelihood assistance to small scale business across the country,” he said.

Reportedly among their affected clients are about 200,000 in the agriculture sector who are active beneficiaries of their livelihood assistance program. Over five million have benefited from the program. – With Perseus Echeminada

ACIRC

ATILDE

CESAR VILLANUEVA

CORPORATE PLAZA

DE GUZMAN

DISBURSEMENT ACCELERATION PROGRAM

EMPLOYEES

MALACA

NBSP

NLDC

SUPREME COURT

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