Witness: 3 senators channel pork barrel to Napoles NGOs-A A +A
Thursday, September 5, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- Non-government organizations (NGOs) allegedly set up by detained businesswoman Janet Napoles received pork barrel funds from Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., a former official of state-run National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) said Thursday.
These NGOs are the People's Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (POPDFI), Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI), and the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI), which were questioned by the Commission on Audit (COA) for ghost projects from 2007 to 2009.
"I was really shocked with all of these things. To the best of our ability, we reviewed their registration with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and we found nothing wrong. If the COA report is true, then we were duped," said former Nabcor president Alan Javellana in a Senate inquiry into the alleged pork barrel scam.
Javellana said he met Napoles twice in Discovery Suites in Pasig City to discuss her possible investment in the corporation, which promotes agribusiness enterprises to augment income of small farmers and fisherfolk.
The ex-Nabcor official also knew Napoles' former personal assistant and whistleblower Benhur Luy as he had transactions with the firm.
Later on, former Nabcor vice president for administration and finance Rhodora Mendoza said she was "very sure" that Enrile, Estrada and Revilla funneled a portion of their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) to Napoles-linked NGOs, particularly SDPFFI where Luy is president.
Ten former and current congressmen also transferred PDAF to the questionable NGOs, namely, Mark Douglas Cagas IV (Davao del Sur), Rizalina Lanete (Masbate), Arthur Pingoy Jr. (South Cotabato), Rodolfo Valencia (Oriental Mindoro), Conrado Estrella III (Pangasinan), Erwin Chiongbian (Sarangani), Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan del Sur), Victor Ortega (La Union), Samuel Dangwa (Benguet), and Edgar Valdez (Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives party list).
Mendoza said she met Napoles in a thanksgiving mass at the Discovery Suites, where the businesswoman holds office.
The implicated senators already denied pocketing pork barrel funds through NGOs identified with Napoles, who is currently in police custody for alleged serious illegal detention of Luy.
On Wednesday, the six-member minority bloc led by Enrile denied responsibility for checking the legitimacy of NGOs as this is the responsibility of the implementing agencies. The bloc said the national budget allows the transfer of funds to NGOs and other civil society groups subject to conditions.
"The provisions of the budget law have already established the parameters within which our PDAF must be implemented by the concerned government agencies. Unfortunately, however, these guidelines and standards were evidently not followed," the statement read.
The third hearing was set on September 12.
Meanwhile, Senator Teofisto Guingona III filed a bill that seeks to abolish PDAF and institutionalize bottom-up budgeting to ensure transparency, accountability, and openness in the budget preparation process.
Under Senate Bill 1524, the money allotted for PDAF will go to the different government agencies, which will ask civil society groups in the identification and planning of programs and projects that will be funded by the national budget.
The move is to limit the discretion of legislators in the use of public funds, which was reportedly abused by some lawmakers and some NGOs. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)