COA audit report prompts Senate to probe pork barrel misuse-A A +A
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
CHAIRMAN Grace Tan of the Commission on Audit (COA) will be the first to testify on the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds in an inquiry set by the Senate, which earlier deferred its plan to probe the issue.
The first hearing is set on August 29, said Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chair of the blue ribbon committee, which seeks to promote government transparency and accountability.
"I refer to the recent disclosure by COA of its findings regarding the alleged misuse of the PDAF (priority development assistance fund). The COA findings can now serve as basis as the Senate blue ribbon committee to begin its probe," he said.
He also called on the public to provide "relevant information" that may help in the investigation and resolution of the case.
Under the report covering years 2007 to 2009, COA noted ghost recipients, excessive allocations, lack of public bidding and release of PDAF to a non-lawmaker and non-government organizations (NGOs) whose incorporators include relatives of members of Congress.
Fugitive businesswoman Janet Napoles allegedly has 10 NGOs, which received P2.157 billion during the audit period. She is said to be the mastermind of using fake NGOs as recipients of PDAF of some lawmakers.
The Senate earlier decided to put the inquiry into the pork barrel scam on hold to give way for the ongoing probe by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Justice, which is expected to file two to three cases against three lawmakers soon.
President Benigno Aquino III has refused to abolish the pork barrel system even if it is prone to corruption.
Malacanang said Tuesday that it would be up to the Senate if it would conduct its own investigation into the multi-billion pork barrel fund scam.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a text message said that the Palace did not see any effect on the ongoing probe that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been conducting if the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will hold its own investigation.
"The probe is perfectly within the jurisdiction of the Senate in aid of legislation. Anyway, the NBI has already started its own investigation," she said.
In a statement, militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno said imposing stricter punishments for those who dipped their hands into PDAF is useless.
"The imposition of stricter punishments for those who misuse pork barrel funds is a desperate attempt to prettify what in essence is an ugly system of legalized corruption. It is revolting that instead of abolishing this major source of corruption, Aquino wants to make it look better," said KMU chairperson Elmer Labog.
The group is expected to participate in the anti-pork barrel protest at the Luneta Park in Manila on August 26, National Heroes Day.
"Workers and the poor know the pork barrel system and are revolted by it. They know how it contributes to the growing hunger and poverty in the country and they are eager to show their disgust with the system," said Labog. (Virgil Lopez/SDR/Sunnex)