5 NGOs in Central Visayas run sans papers-A A +A
Friday, August 30, 2013
CEBU CITY -- Five unregistered non-government organizations (NGOs) have been operating in Central Visayas region without the knowledge of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), its officials said.
Josephine Belotindos, DSWD regional standards unit chief, said these NGOs have been operating without accreditation from any government agency.
She told Sun.Star Cebu that their common work involves children’s welfare.
None of the five NGOs, though, receive funds from legislators or government entities.
DSWD, the agency mandated to accredit NGOs that are focused on providing social welfare services, has recorded 250 organizations operating in the region. Around 100 of these are based in Cebu province.
DSWD Regional Director Mercedita Jabagat advised the public to check the track record and collateral information of NGOs before getting involved in their work.
She raised the issue following the controversy over the alleged ghost NGOs funded by the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of some legislators.
In an interview on Thursday, Jabagat assured that their agency follows rules in disbursing the PDAF.
“We are working for legislators to transfer their PDAF. We can’t obligate without the sub-allotment advise where the purpose of the funds is stipulated,” she said.
The prerequisites include a review by the Securities and Exchange Commission and endorsement as a non-profit organization.
Belotindos said that the five unregistered NGOs have submitted applications for accreditation after DSWD learned about their operations.
The department is working with Absnet or Area-based Standards Network in assessing and identifying colorum groups.
Interest in NGOs, particularly those receiving funds from legislators, grew after the P10-billion pork barrel scam was discovered.
At the center of the controversy is Janet Lim-Napoles, a businesswoman who is allegedly behind numerous bogus NGOs where some legislators’ PDAF were channeled.
Two weeks after the warrant for her arrest was issued, Napoles surrendered to President Aquino last Wednesday, the same day the President announced a P10-million reward for any information that will lead to her arrest.
Following the surrender of Napoles, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama also urged fugitive Rosalinda Badana, a former City Hall disbursing officer, to turn herself in.
“Badana, wherever you are, look at Napoles. Ayaw kaguol (Don’t be sad), Badana, you are not alone,” Rama said during his regular press conference yesterday.
In March 1998, Badana left Cebu City Hall. Shortly after, her unliquidated cash advances amounting to P17 million was uncovered.
Even if Napoles is believed to have masterminded the multi-billion pork barrel scam, Rama lauded her for her courage to surrender to Aquino.
But at the same time, he questioned the motive behind the surrender.
Instead of dwelling on Napoles’ arrest, Rama diverted the attention to Badana’s unliquidated cash advances, which still appears in the Commission on Audit’s (COA) report on the City’s finances.
Over P70 million worth of disallowances were noted by COA in the City’s books for fiscal year 2012.
Rama wondered why COA has been nagging him about this when this happened during the term of former mayor Alvin Garcia.
Rama also emphasized that after Garcia, former congressman Tomas Osmeña sat as mayor for nine years.
“Unya ako ilang pa-kolektahon. Ako ang pasanginlan (And they ask me to make the collection. They blame me),” said Rama.
He said that if Badana surrenders, other personalities might be dragged into the controversy, just as it is expected that legislators will be made accountable for the billions of pesos that went to Napoles’s NGOs.
Also in Cebu City, some lawyers believe that no one is entitled to the P10-million reward offered by the President, since Napoles surrendered and was not arrested.
This was the opinion of Associate Justice Gabriel Ingles and lawyers in Cebu City, including Democrito Barcenas, Inocencio dela Cerna.
Barcenas, also the Liberal Party Cebu spokesperson, welcomed Napoles’s decision to yield to Aquino.
“She (Napoles) felt public pressure as shown by massive rallies in Luneta and major cities in the countries,” said Barcenas.
Barcenas also lauded the effort of Aquino to have Napoles arrested by putting up the cash reward.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 30, 2013.