Village officials deny pork scam involvement

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Monday, August 18, 2014


FORMER and incumbent barangay officials have denied the veracity of the documents that included their names as beneficiaries of an agricultural project allegedly tied to the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.

The Office of the Ombudsman in Davao City issued a distribution list of those who benefited from the P39-million agricultural project of Cagayan de Oro City's first district Representative Rolando Uy.

City councilor Alexander Dacer, Barangay Puntod chair Marvin Beja, former Puerto chair Milagros Lao, and former Barangay Puerto council secretary Jigger Jerusalem are among those included in the list.

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Uy's Livelihood Technology Kit program in 2009 was implemented with Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc. (KKAMFI) under the National Agribusiness Corporations (Nabcor) for the first district of Cagayan de Oro City, a document from the Ombudsman read.

In the list released by the Ombudsman, 832 people in 24 barangays in the city’s first district were supposedly afforded with the project twice with sets of seedlings of mango, calamansi, rambutan and jackfruit and P3,900 in cash.

Dacer, who was also a former Barangay Puntod chair, cried foul with his name's inclusion to the distribution list.

“I am surprised and at the same time ‘nahimuot’ (amused). The signature in the [distribution] list is very far in form from my specimen signatures on my IDs,” said Dacer.

“I am more than willing to face the investigators and stand firm that I was not able to receive anything from the PDAF of Uy,” Dacer added.

In a sworn statement of Beja, formerly a council member also of Puntod, he denied receipt of any kind from the said livelihood program.

He said the signature affixed beside his name in the distribution list or project beneficiaries was fabricated.

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro’s copy editor Jigger Jerusalem, who formerly worked as the council secretary of Barangay Puerto from 2002 to 2007, was baffled to see his name in the first district barangay while he is a resident of Puerto, which belonged to the city’s second congressional district.

Jerusalem said Puerto did not receive any agricultural project from Uy during the barangay council’s term (2002-2007) because it is not under Uy’s congressional jurisdiction.

The project in question, according to the Ombudsman, was implemented from 2007 to 2009, at the time when the barangay council where Jerusalem used to serve was no longer in position since a new batch of village officials took over after the October 29, 2007 nationwide barangay elections.

Fake signatures

Jerusalem also said the signature affixed beside his name on the list were not his.

As proof, he showed to reporters his identification cards, including his Sun.Star company ID, SSS, and Postal ID to prove that his signature is different from that on the list.

“The Office of the Ombudsman should seriously look into this as the reputation of close to a thousand Kagay-anons is at stake here. I am also appealing to Representative Uy to shed light on this issue,” Jerusalem said.

Former Puerto chair Milagros Lao also said she cannot recall she signed such document that would make her a beneficiary of an agricultural project.

Lao has known Uy personally but there was never a time as former Puerto chair that she discussed about any livelihood technology program with Uy.

Dacer, Beja, Lao, and Jerusalem and many others are listed as beneficiaries from Barangay Mambuaya of this city. But they confirmed that they are not residents of the said village.

On August 1, the Ombudsman sent a request to the chair of Mambuaya to confirm their residence and the 52 other beneficiaries included in the list. As of this posting Sunday, the barangay has not yet verified the request.

In a Commission on Audit (COA) Special Audit Office report published online by GMA News Research, Uy allegedly had dealings with KKAMFI, a network of eight non-government organizations (NGOs), which is considered the biggest player in the PDAF scam that beat Janet Napoles.

Napoles, who is presently detained, is suspected to be the brain of the pork barrel scam, estimated to be worth P10 billion that allegedly involved senators and members of the House of Representatives.

The same report stated that this network alone got P973.497 million from PDAF in 2007 to 2009. Half of this amount — P526.679 million — went to KKAMFI alone.

Projects of KKAMFI include agricultural programs, such as the procurement of seedlings, farm implements and livelihood technology kits.

Like the alleged pork barrel queen Napoles’ regular clientele in the Congress, the KKAMFI had its own share of network of loyal House members—with at least 27 lawmakers funneling between P10 million to P65 million of their PDAF, a Rappler report said.

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro tried to get in touch with Uy via text message around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday for his comment, but he didn’t return the message sent on his mobile.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 18, 2014.

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