COA: 141 congressmen funneled 'pork' to TRC

Posted at 03/24/14 10:03 AM

MANILA - Almost half of the 289 members of the House of Representatives funneled their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to non-government organizations (NGOs) using the Technology Resource Center (TRC) as conduit agency, records from the Commission on Audit (COA) revealed.

From 2007 to 2009, nearly P2 billion of the PDAF or pork barrel of 141 congressmen were allocated through the TRC, the COA said.

The COA report came ahead of its latest findings that there were irregularities in the allocation of over P515 million in pork barrel to the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), an agency under the Office of the President headed by former elections commissioner Mehol Sadain.

Surigao del Sur first district Rep. Philip Pichay was on top of the COA list after he allocated P162 million of his supposed PDAF through the Aaron Foundation Phils. Inc. (AFPI).

His brother, former representative Prospero Pichay Jr., also allocated P40.370 million of his PDAF through the AFPI. Both congressmen used the TRC as the implementing agency.

Former House speaker Jose de Venecia also allocated P19.2 million of his PDAF to AFPI through the TRC.

De Venecia’s share, however, was relatively low compared to former Speaker Prospero Nograles who gave P50.4 million of his pork barrel to the same NGO through the TRC.

The latest COA findings were apparently what Senators Francis Escudero, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe and Jinggoy Estrada were referring to when they moved that the Senate Blue Ribbon committee should now focus its inquiry on PDAF diverted to other NGOs not related to Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of a multibillion-peso pork barrel scam exposed by whistle-blower Benhur Luy.

Estrada and fellow senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr. have been implicated in the first installment of the pork barrel scam.

Estrada said the COA should not stop the inquiry on just three senators. Instead, he asked that all lawmakers mentioned in the COA report be made accountable.

31 NGOs involved

The fund releases were made through 31 NGOs apart from those identified with Napoles.

Some of these NGOs were identified as Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc; Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation Inc; Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc.; Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc.; People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundations Inc.; Philippine Agri and Social Economic Development Foundation Inc., and Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc.

The others were the Social Development Program Farmers Foundation Inc.; Aaron Foundation Inc.; Aksyon Makamasa Foundation Inc.; Antipolo Philanthropy Foundation Inc.; Antipolo Social Alliance for Progress Inc.; Asia World Sanctuary and Development Inc.; Bantayog Kalinga Foundation Inc.; Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation Inc. and Dr. Rodolfo A. Ignacio Sr. Foundation Inc.

The COA also identified 23 other members of the House of Representatives who supposedly funneled P286.5 million of their pork barrel funds.

The amount was out of the P478.2 million representing the PDAF which went to Napoles-linked organizations and passed through the TRC alone.

Of the P478.2 million, P191.7 million were sourced from the PDAF of Enrile, Estrada and Revilla.

The pork barrel allocations of Enrile, Estrada and Revilla were spread through many NGOs, the COA report said.

When TRC director general on-leave Dennis Cunanan testified before the Senate committee earlier this month, he did not mention names of the other lawmakers but focused merely on Estrada, Enrile and Revilla.

Sources said the P156.1 million PDAF allocated to the TRC were from four other senators.

COA documents identified Senators Ralph Recto, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Gregorio Honasan and former Sen. Edgardo Angara as having coursed their pork barrel shares through NGOs not linked to Napoles.

Both Angara and Recto, however, have denied participation in the alleged transactions with TRC.

The COA said a total of P348 million from senators have been allegedly misused or found to have entered a questionable transaction with the TRC.

COA chairperson Gracia Pulido-Tan had revealed in a press conference last August that P6.156 billion PDAF allocations went to 82 NGOs, 10 of which were linked to Napoles.

The Napoles-linked NGOs got P2.157 billion or about 25 percent of the entire PDAF that were supposedly misused.

Among the agencies in government, COA said the TRC got many pork-related projects from senators and congressmen during the three-year period.

The projects allegedly amounted to a total of P2.613 billion.

Palace clueless

Meanwhile, Malacañang admitted yesterday it does not have any idea about the reported P515 million pork barrel allocations to senators and congressmen in 2012 that were coursed through the office of President Aquino.

“I don’t know if COA has referred this to the agencies concerned. Let me check the latest COA report first to verify,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said over dzRB. “This is an audit report, so we will have to ask the NCMF on the status of those issues.”

Two senators – Enrile and Honasan – and 38 former and incumbent members of the House of Representatives allocated more than P514 million to the NCMF in 2012.

According to the newest COA report, copies of which have been sent to the House, the funds ended up in 18 foundations and NGOs, some of which are identified with Napoles.

The NGOs supposedly used the money for various livelihood projects, training and seminars for Muslim Filipinos.

Nothing irregular

A senior administration lawmaker who was identified by the COA as among the legislators who channeled their pork barrel funds to NGOs through the NCMF in 2012 maintained yesterday there was nothing irregular in what he did.

Abante Mindanao party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, according to COA, gave Livedures Foundation P12 million through the NCMF, which reportedly received a total of P515 million from the PDAF of senators and House members, and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of Malacañang in 2012.

“All of my PDAF-funded projects were properly implemented and liquidated, and aboveboard,” Rodriguez told The STAR. – With Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero