Angara, Zubiri deny COA report on PDAF irregularity
MANILA, Philippines - Former senators Edgardo Angara and Juan Miguel Zubiri have denied any irregularity in the transfer of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to certain non-government organizations (NGOs) as indicated in a Commission on Audit (COA) report.
The COA report cited several irregularities in the use of the PDAF, commonly known as the pork barrel fund of legislators, from 2007 to 2009.
Among the issues raised against Angara was that he was an incorporator, director and stockholder in the Kalusugan ng Bata, Karunungan ng Bayan Foundation Inc. (K and K Foundation), which received P14.4 million of his PDAF.
Angara said the P14.4 million was used for the feeding of malnourished children, coursed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), “which monitored its use, and required a liquidation report, which the foundation complied with after it wound up its operations in 2009.”
While admitting he was a member of the K and K Foundation’s board of trustees, Angara said that he did not benefit personally from it. He said the foundation’s bylaws prohibit the trustees from getting salaries or other forms of compensation.
With regard to the P81 million of his PDAF that went to the READ Foundation, he said only P4.7 million has yet to be liquidated by the DSWD.
The Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) also received P10 million from the PDAF of Angara in 2007, which he said was granted after a formal request from the agency.
“In fact, we have requested the TLRC for a terminal report on the P10 million, such as where it was used and what marginal sectors benefited from the fund. We are awaiting TLRCs response,” he said.
Angara said that there was no record of a P20 million release to the National Agribusiness Corp. as indicated in the COA report.
“As this supposed transaction occurred more than four to five years ago, we are gathering our files and looking into the matter,” he said.
Blame it on DBM, resident auditors
Meanwhile, Zubiri said any irregularity in the utilization of funds he allocated to the Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Pelikulang Pilipino (NMPP) and Iriga City should be blamed on the agency’s resident auditors and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“Let’s make it clear that I have not allocated any part of my PDAF to dubious, fake or ‘Napoles’ like NGOs,” he said in a three-page letter to COA Chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan on Monday, a copy of which The STAR obtained yesterday.
Zubiri said the pork barrel system should be abolished so that legislators could focus on their job, instead of spending time dealing with the requests for assistance and projects from various local government units.
The former senator, who resigned in December 2011 amid allegations that he benefited from poll fraud during the May 2007 elections, said his PDAF was subdivided to more than a thousand cities and municipalities nationwide under his “One Town, One Project” program.
Zubiri said the Quezon City government implemented the P6.5 million that he gave to the NMPP for housing and scholarship programs for movie workers.
“If indeed such appropriation was not allowed, DBM should not have released the SAROs intended to fund these programs,” he said.
On his PDAF allocations to Iriga City for the construction and rehabilitation of school buildings, day care centers and health centers, Zubiri said he only gave P600,000 and not more than P1 million as indicated in the COA report. – Marvin Sy, Michael Punongbayan