‘The truth will prevail’

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Sunday, May 18, 2014


CEBU City North District Rep. Raul del Mar was a little bit emotional when I interviewed him on my radio program over dySS Super Radyo last Saturday on the inclusion of his name in the list of legislators who are allegedly involved in the multi-billion pork barrel scam. Del Mar apologized to his constituents but swore to God that he did not commit any wrongdoing in the implementation and disbursements of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

He, however, could not categorically explain why his name is in the list. He said somebody might have used his name or faked some documents under his name. When asked if some legislators received huge kickbacks and commissions from their pork barrel funds which they channeled through fake and bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) set up by the queen of this scam, Janet Lim Napoles, del Mar said this might be true.

But in his case he said he may be a victim of political intrigues by some quarters out to destroy his reputation. He also vouched for the integrity of his colleague, neophyte Cebu First District Rep. Gerard Anthony “Samsam” Gullas, who is also in the list together with former fourth district congresswoman. Clavel Asas-Martinez. Samsan also denied any involvement in the alleged scam, saying he did not receive any pork barrel funds.

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Del Mar said it is unfair to Samsan, considering the latter just assumed office last year. This was the time their pork barrel allocations were scrapped by virtue of a Supreme Court decision. They did not receive any PDAF since they assumed office. But despite this, del Mar was able to get funding from national line agencies to sustain his projects like medical assistance at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center and financial aid for calamity victims.

De Mar explained that he cannot recall dealing with NGOs outside Cebu. All his pork barrel allocations since becoming a congressman after Edsa 1 were implemented in his district. But he ordered his staff to review all the documents of his pork barrel disbursements. He showed me lists of his projects. He used 46 percent of his P70-million annual allocation for hard projects, giving each barangay in his district P1 million.

The remaining allocations were intended for soft projects like medical assistance, livelihood and financial aid. Everything was channeled to national line agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Health. And these agencies are very strict, as far as documentation is concerned. They have to follow guidelines and monitor the implementation all the way. His big infrastructure projects like flyovers and skywalks were itemized in the general appropriation.

He admitted that there are personalities like medical representatives who approached him and offered him a big percentage for the purchase of medicines. But he declined the offers by telling them to negotiate with the proper government agency and not to go to him directly.

Asked whether it was possible one of his staffers made a “secret deal” with Napoles’s NGOs, he said that couldn’t have happened since he checks everything before approving these. Besides, his chief of staff is his daughter Cutie, who handles and monitors all the documentation.

To prove his innocence, del Mar will request any investigative body like the Department of Justice and the ombudsman to conduct an impartial and thorough investigation against those personalities in the list so those innocent like him can clear their names. If possible, charge them in court if evidence warrants it so they can defend themselves in a proper forum, he said. He is confident he will be cleared in this mess.

He admitted he is somewhat affected by the issue because of public perception that he really is involved. He said it is very hard to erase public perception no matter how well you explain, especially now that there is public outcry on this issue. People will just jump to conclusions. But he said “the truth will prevail.”

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 19, 2014.

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