Way Kurat denies getting P3B pork
MANILA - One of the biggest surprises in the Commission on Audit (COA) report was the allocation of 3 billion pesos in pork barrel to Manuel "Way Kurat" Zamora who was then representative of Compostela Valley.
Speaking to ANC, Zamora denied getting or approving the release of such a huge amount.
"Feeling ko para akong natatawa, para akong naiinis. Mixed emotion ho," he said in an interview.
He said that during his first term as congressman, he got only P50 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). This went up to P70 million during his second term, composed of P40 million for hard projects and P30 million for soft projects.
Zamora said this means he could not have received more than P210 million for the period 2007-2009.
"Ang duda ko ang pinangalan lang diyan sa P3.2 billion e PDAF. Ang PDAF lang diyan kung 3 years is P210 million. Bakit sobra? Bakit may excess? Hintayin natin breakdown nila kasi baka yung breakdown, kung may foreign assisted, that is the initiative of the President like concreting on 70 kilometers na four-lane...the funding that is foreign-assisted since it went to my district, it was misinterpreted as PDAF of Manuel Zamora," he said.
"Wala pong pera o notice na dumarating sa office ko," he added.
He also noted that COA auditors do not go to his office for the audit but to the recipient of his pork barrel funds, which include the district and regional engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
The former congressman said he feels bad that he is being accused of getting a huge pork barrel allocation.
"Siguro may dumating and this should be subject of audit. Ang feeling ko po, yung P3.2 billion ay nailagay yan sa district ko pero yung pork barrel o PDAF medyo sumasama ang hitsura namin dahil tingin ng tao that is all pork barrel," he said.
Was there a mix-up?
For his part, Transparency and Accountability Network executive director Vince Lazatin said it was unlikely that COA could have mixed up foreign assistance funds with the congressman's PDAF.
"It does seem unlikely in my view that foreign assistance funds could have gotten mixed up with the Priority Development Assistance Fund or any kind of pork barrel funds. If that's the case, then we should have seen foreign assistance funds appear in other congressman's funds. It doesn't seem likely," he said in a separate interview.
Lazatin noted that the COA report does not list any other congressman whose PDAF reached a billion pesos. He said a COA auditor would double-check that number "because it's too outrageous."
Lazatin said he is also very skeptical about former budget chief Rolando Andaya's claim that a lawmaker could go above the prescribed pork barrel allocation every year. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/08/16/13/andaya-no-rule-vs-higher-pork...
"Hearing the former secretary of budget and management that a P70 million for congressmen and P200 million is a floor, meaning they are compelled to spend at least that amount, that seems very unlikely. In many years we have been following PDAF and the usage of pork barrel, the P70 million for congressmen and P200 million for senators have always been spoken of as a ceiling," he said.