LP denies 'demolition work' vs UNA leaders-A A +A
Thursday, February 28, 2013
THE ruling Liberal Party (LP) denied that it is behind the supposed "demolition work" against the key leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
"We are too busy on our campaign for Team PNoy for us to be digging up issues against UNA. That is not our cup of tea," Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, a spokesperson for the administration coalition said in a text message Thursday.
UNA campaign manager Navotas Representative Tobias Tiangco said the LP was behind a Commission on Audit (COA) report questioning the release of Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) or pork barrel to a supposed dubious non-government organization (NGO) named Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (PFI).
According to the COA report, some P195 million in PDAF of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President Pro-tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. and former Buhay party-list representative Rene Velarda went to the questionable NGO in 2011.
Enrile and Estrada's father, former President Joseph Estrada, are both key leaders of UNA.
The COA findings show that the three senators and former party-list congressman turned over P206 million in PDAF to the Department of Agriculture (DA) in 2009 and 2010. Of the amount, P201 million was handed by the DA to ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC). It was ZREC which then transferred the P194.97 million to PFI.
Team PNoy spokesperson House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III said Tiangco was "missing the point." "It is not a question of who was behind the disclosure to the media of the COA report. The point is whether the COA report is true or not," he said.
"It's totally absurd," Team PNoy spokesperson Marikina Representative Miro Quimbo said of Tiangco's remarks. "I wonder what else they will blame the President's team for in the coming months. Huwag sana lumindol, baka pati yun masisi pa tayo."
Former Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., an LP senatorial candidate running under the Team PNoy coalition, said the Senate should immediately investigate the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds.
Magsaysay said a thorough probe is necessary "so that we can plug any loopholes in the funding process."
In a press statement, Enrile challenged the COA to release in full its findings and observations from the special audit it conducted on all members of Congress.
"In the interest of fairness, transparency and justice, and to penalize those parties who may have financially benefited from the PDAF funds which are meant to help our constituents, I urge the Commission on Audit to officially release in full its findings and observations borne out by its special audit," he said.
The senior lawmaker said COA "must not allow itself to be used by anybody to achieve political or partisan ends by allowing a piece-meal or selective disclosure of parts of its report."
"It must explain the parameters and the scope of its audit and, in all fairness, point out the parties responsible for any shenanigans in the use of public funds without fear or favor," the Senate leader added.
Enrile said that he and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. had been previously informed by COA chairman Grace Pulido-Tan that the audit body was conducting a "special audit" of the PDAF of all senators and congressmen.
According to Enrile, Tan had assured them that the special audit was not directed at the lawmakers but at the implementing agencies.
Senator Revilla challenged the DA and the PFI to explain to the public where the funds were used while Estrada, the Senate President Pro-Tempore, promised to initiate an investigation on the COA report.
Malacañang, for its part, said Thursday the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will cooperate in case the Senate calls for an investigation on the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds by some senators.
"If DBM will be called in as a witness, they will of course testify in the Senate hearing," said presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda in a briefing Thursday. (Kathrina Alvarez/Virgil Lopez/SDR/Sunnex)