Pimentel wants Senate probe on 'non-PDAF scam'
MANILA, Philippines - From PDAF to non-PDAF scam. Sen. Koko Pimentel on Thursday said he will ask the Senate to investigate a possible scam that saw alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles get organic funds of the Department of Agriculture.
Speaking before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the pork barrel scam, Pimentel said he will file a resolution to investigate why a November 20, 2012 memorandum of agreement between the DA and the government of Surigao del Sur mentioned his name as receiving funds from DA’s Organic Agriculture Program.
The MOA was signed by Agriculture Undersecretary Antonio Fleta and Governor Johnny Pimentel and the funds coursed to Surigao del Sur.
"I will file a resolution with the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to also investigate non-PDAF scam because this MOA concerns 10 million pesos mentions my name in the whereas clause. It is not a MOA of my office and the DA. It is a MOA between the DA and Surigao del Sur. It mentions my name as a chosen beneficiary of a certain amount and then mentions the fact that I have chosen the ultimate beneficiary, the province of Surigao del Sur," Pimentel told senators.
Pimentel said he could not have asked for allocations from the DA since he had only used P8 million of his P200 million yearly pork barrel allocation for 2013.
"P192 million hindi nagalaw tapos pati non-PDAF pakikialaman ko pa," he said.
He said the probe will look into alleged letter-requests to the DA "since these could be forgeries."
Pimentel said he was not informed about the MOA but was only alerted Wednesday night by Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon.
"If the DA enters into a MOA, mentions the name of a legislator and does not even inform the legislator of the existence of the MOA, then something is really fishy. Bakit ganun? Why the secrecy?" he asked.
"Maybe it is time to overhaul the Department of Agriculture.
He also noted that John Lim, the nephew of Napoles, was one of the witnesses in the MOA that was signed in the office of Undersecretary Fleta.
Meanwhile, key whistle-blower Benhur Luy said the MOA was prepared in Fleta's office based on letter-requests from lawmakers. He said one of the beneficiaries was the Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. -- a bogus NGO linked to Napoles.
He said the letter-request issued to the DA allegedly requested for P30 million but only P10 million was approved.
"The letter did not say which province would get the funds," he said. "There was no endorsement to the lawmaker designating the NGO but I know that the office of Mrs. Napoles got money."
Luy revealed that Napoles had contact with Usec. Fleta and DA official Ophelia Agawin.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also said it is investigating the alleged misuse of DA funds.
Napoles is accused of setting up fake NGOs that acted as conduits of millions of pesos in lawmakers' pork barrel funds. At least 38 people linked to the scam are now facing plunder, graft and malversation charges before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Napoles got funds from LGUs
In her testimony, whistle-blower Merlina Suñas confirmed that she and other employees of Napoles set up NGOs that received millions of pesos in pork barrel funds from lawmakers.
"Tulong tulong kami na magtayo ng foundations para magamit ni Mam Jenny sa pagtransact at pagkuha ng pondo sa ibat ibang agencies ng gobyerno," she said in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.
She also revealed that Napoles-linked NGOs no longer made deliveries to intended beneficiaries from 2007-2009.
"In 2007-2009, talaga pong all transactiosn wala pong nangyaring deliveries po nung year na yun. In the last quarter of 2010 to 2012, ang mga PDAF ng mga lawmakers ay na download na sa LGUs kasi yun yung nasa DBM menu," she said.
She said that some local officials did not allow ghost deliveries since they have separate auditors that checked the deliveries.
Luy, however, said Napoles was also able to get funds from local government units since she already got the endorsement of lawmakers.
"Ginawa ng LGUs kasi may contact si Napoles na LGus na madaling makasingil at kinausap na niya. Kilala na niya yug mayors at in-endorse na ng lawmakers na ito yung LGUs na pagbabagsakan ng pondo," he added.