2 GOCCs in 'pork' scam face abolition

Posted at 09/03/13 12:54 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Environment Secretary Ramon Paje has ordered the caretaker of the Philippine Forest Corp. to secure important documents needed in investigating allegations that fake non-government organizations (NGOs) had used the PFC to access pork barrel funds.

Speaking to reporters, Paje said: “I already gave strict instruction to secure important documents, records and other materials that can be used in the ongoing probe. It should be kept safe and then submitted to the investigating body as soon as possible. I also ordered the concerned officials to refrain from disbursing funds except for payment of salaries.”

Paje has named Undersecretary Annaliza Teh as PFC officer-in-charge after its president Erwin Krishna Santos was suspended indefinitely while agreements it entered into with questionable NGOs and lawmakers are being looked into.

Paje said since 2012, he had already endorsed that the PFC be delisted from the group of agencies receiving a budget for projects sourced from pork barrel funds.

“It is better to use your own funds in the regular activities of the department,” he said.

Paje said the PFC is merely a subsidiary of the National Resources Development Corporation, an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“The link of the DENR to the PFC is through the Board of which I am chairman,” he said.

He backs the abolition of the PFC as its functions are redundant to those of the NRDC, Paje said.

At the Department of Agriculture (DA), two attached corporations involved in the transfer of pork barrel funds to NGOs affiliated with Janet Lim-Napoles are in the process of being abolished.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR) and the Zamboanga del Norte Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) will be abolished by yearend.

“Our intention is to close it down, but there are procedures that must be followed, especially with their personnel,” he said.

“We will consult with the (Department of Labor and Employment) and the (Governance Commission for GOCCs) on how to settle this.”

Alcala spoke during a briefing at the Senate committee on agriculture and food yesterday.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, committee chair, said the Senate is very concerned about the fate of the two corporations because they were used in funneling of billions in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers to bogus NGOs affiliated with Napoles.

Alcala said the plan to abolish the two corporations had come about even before the pork barrel scam was reported in the media. –With Marvin Sy