Did typo give 'Way Kurat' P3 billion?
MANILA, Philippines - Former budget secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. has raised the possibility that state auditors might have made a typographical error in attributing a P3-billion fund release to former Compostela Valley lawmaker Manuel "Way Kurat" Zamora.
In a radio interview, the Camarines Sur lawmaker said that as far as he could remember, the P3 billion went to the central office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), not to Zamora’s projects.
“The one who typed the document or collected the information might have erred... Money must have gone to central office, not the district of Way Kurat. I think in the coming days, we can confirm that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Andaya said a ghost lawmaker that the Commission on Audit identified as “Luis Abalos” who had received P20 million from the pork barrel fund must have been former lawmaker Benhur Abalos, now the Mandaluyong mayor.
The name of Zamora as recipient of the P3-billion fund came up in the special COA report on the use of some P101 billion in PDAF and funds for various infrastructure and local projects.
Zamora said the COA findings and figures are “definitely not true” as he has never heard of or got a centavo of it during his term as lawmaker from 2001 to 2010.
The amount was not his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) but the DPWH maintenance and other operating expenses for the maintenance of roads, highways and bridges nationwide, he added.
The special allotment release order (SARO) covering the P3 billion does not even mention his name at all, Zamora said.
The special audit released last week said some 74 senators and House members exceeded their PDAF budgets by hundreds of millions from 2007 to 2009.
Zamora was the highlight of such findings because he allegedly allocated P3.2 billion for infrastructure projects nationwide during the period which shows an excess of P2.9 billion since a House member only receives P70 million in pork barrel annually.
The COA report said PDAF funds were released by the DBM for projects identified by lawmakers “even if the projects were outside their legislative districts.”
“As disclosed in the summary of releases provided to the Team by the DBM, releases of P3 billion under SARO No. A-07-095396 to DPWH-CO (Central Office) was intended for the implementation of projects nationwide identified by Representative Manuel E. Zamora,” read the COA report.
Under the PDAF system, lawmakers are only the ones who identify the projects and implementing agencies but they do not actually receive money from the DBM. – With Michael Punongbayan