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Lacson doesn’t want another Napoles saga

The Philippine Star
Lacson doesnât want another Napoles saga
These photos show presidential aspirant Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, who attended the Commission on Elections presidential debate at Sofitel on April 3, 2022.
Lacson-Sotto campaign / Viber

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson intends to avoid cases of non-government organizations being used as dummy entities to extract public funds from the national government, which led to a corruption scandal that erupted in 2013 involving detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

A discussion on this topic was brought up during the town hall meeting Lacson held yesterday at the Ynares Center on the sidelines of his campaign activities in Antipolo City, Rizal.

One participant representing the youth sector asked the senator if it is possible for their NGO to get financial support from his government to help them implement their planned community projects.

“It might be hard for us to justify the request of government funds if it goes to an NGO. You know, that is when a series of investigations were launched in the past when Napoles had been charged because they used private NGOs,” Lacson replied to the young woman, who identified herself as a member of the Phase 2B Youth Movement based in San Luis, Antipolo City.

Napoles has been dubbed as ‘pork barrel queen’ by the media for allegedly masterminding the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, which incriminated several politicians. She remains in detention after the Sandiganbayan found her guilty of plunder, graft and malversation of public funds, according to reports.

“It is difficult because public funds cannot be transferred to a private organization. We are being honest with you. It is easy to say ‘yes, we will do it.’ But we know that it cannot happen because it would violate the law and it might not pass the standards of COA,” he said, referring to the Commission on Audit.

The presidential candidate instead offered his proposed paid internship program for the financially challenged members of the youth sector, who want to pursue college education and provide for their families at the same time. Lacson said this program can help build professional connections for the youth who want to develop careers in different fields in both the private and public sectors.

Lacson also advised the youth leader that she may consider linking up with big private corporations, which have ongoing corporate social responsibility projects, to seek financial support. He said this kind of arrangement is authorized by existing laws and already practiced by organizations like the Ayala Foundation and SM Foundation.

“All you need to do is make an official request, and if your NGO is accredited, that is allowed – private-to-private. That is authorized because the benefit of that is once they incur expenses for their corporate social responsibility, that would be tax-free. They would not be charged for it, it’s tax deductible,” he said.

Lacson added that the only way for an NGO to have its programs financed through public funds is if the organization itself would yield its proposed projects through a memorandum of agreement to a national government agency, which would execute them on its behalf.

But the very idea of requesting taxpayers’ money for an NGO-led project is out of the question.

PANFILO “PING” LACSON

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