House probe over fake Saros sought

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

AN OPPOSITION lawmaker on Tuesday sought a congressional investigation into the alleged scam involving fake special allotment release orders (Saros).

In House Resolution 564, Abakada party-list Representative Jonathan dela Cruz said there should be a "complete overhaul" of the government's fund allocation, and disbursement system and practices.

The Saro is a document issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) allowing the release of government funds, including the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) or congressional pork barrel.

The resolution directs the committees on good government and accountability, and appropriations to conduct an investigation to expose the syndicates behind the scam.

In a statement released Monday night, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the fake Saro came from Emmanuel Raza, a staff member of Zamboanga City Representative Lilia Macrohon-Nuño.

Belmonte said it was Raza "who requested appropriations committee staff Jose Badong if he knew someone from the office of congresswoman Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso, because he (Raza) has a copy of the Saro for Region 2 (Cagayan Valley). Badong, who knew Bong Pelonio, Vargas-Alfonso's chief of staff, gave the alleged SARO to Mr. Pelonio."

Nuño, a first-term lawmaker, insisted that she had no hand in the alleged scam involving fake Saros.

"I'm just barely five months and I'm not involved in any dubious transaction. I don't even know about the SARO. I did not follow up any project that has been left during the time of Cong. Erico Fabian because I'm concentrating on the projects for 2014," she said in an ambush interview.

Being a neophyte, Nuño's office was not able to benefit from the PDAF after the Supreme Court recently declared the pork barrel system as unconstitutional.

"If I do not have PDAF, I can always go to the GAA (General Appropriations Act) and see if my district has projects in it. So I can follow it up," Nuño said. (Sunnex)

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