The Commission on Audit (COA) has confirmed non-government organizations (NGOs) linked to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles received Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel funds from 2007 to 2009.
This is the first time a government office has solidly linked Napoles to the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam.In a press conference Friday, COA Administrator Grace Pulido-Tan said 10 of the 82 NGOs that received pork barrel funds had links to Napoles. These organizations were also able to get around P2 billion of pork barrel.
She said irregularities in the use of the legislators’ pork barrel funds was enough to make her weep.
"Kung si Cardinal Tagle po e naluha, ako po ay napahagulgol," Tan said.
Tan also said 74 legislators exceeded their respective allocations with one legislator, identified as former Compostela Valley Rep. Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora, receiving P3 billion.
A senator is given a maximum of P200 million in pork barrel while a congressman is given P70 million.
She also said some of the 82 NGOs had non-existent addresses and telephone numbers. Some addresses were revealed to be shanties and some were high-end residences of the owners of the “NGOs.”
In addition, some P123 million was used by the various NGOs to pay their own staff. “Ang bayan ang nagpasweldo sa kanilang mga tauhan,” Tan said.
She added that the NGOs used fictitious names from board and bar passers as alleged beneficiaries of their projects.
“In respect to the allocation of funds and monitoring of releases, lumabas po sa aming audit that that DBM failed to keep proper records of and to efficiently monitor the releases per legislator…we had to rely on the records of agencies themselves as well as documents obtained also from the DBM. This showed that 74 legislators significantly exceeded their respective allocations,” said Tan.
In a phone interview with ANC, Zamora denied receiving P3 billion in PDAF. He explained that the amount might have included foreign assistance for infrastructure projects in his district.
Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya, former Budget Secretary from 2007 to 2009, told ANC that he welcomes the COA report and said he is willing to cooperate in any investigation.
He said it was time the public knows about the misuse of the funds and for Congress to decide to abolish it or not.
Andaya said his office was only the recipient of the requests from lawmakers for funds and that questions on how the money was spent should be directed to the implementing agency, and not the disbursing agency.
The COA's revelations were made a few days after the National Bureau of Investigation launched a hunt for Napoles, the alleged brains behind the multi-billion pork barrel scam where funds from lawmakers’ pork barrel were funneled to bogus NGOs, on serious illegal detention charges.
Meantime, this is the COA Special Report on the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) otherwise known as the pork barrel funds. To download this, click here.