Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla funneled their pork barrel to non-government organizations (NGOs) through the little known Zamboanga del Norte College Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC), ZREC former head Salvador Salacup told a Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam on Thursday.
Salacup however clarified that the 3 senators’ pork went to an NGO that were not linked to Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged operator of the multi-billion pork barrel scam.
In Thursday's Senate hearing on the scam, senators took turns grilling officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the National Agri Busines Corp. (NABCOR) and ZREC on the large amounts of pork barrel given to NGOs.
Salacup said he saw signatures of the legislators in the endorsement letters carried by their authorized representatives.
“If I recall correctly a representative of Estrada was a certain Mr. Dinglasan and for Senator Enrile an identified representative was a certain Mr. Evangelista. If I recall it was Senator Revilla who signed the documents,” he said.
Former Partylist Representatives Rene Velarde and Edgar Valdez were also mentioned by Salacup as using ZREC to allot their pork barrel to NGOs.
Enrile, Estrada and Revilla were not present during the hearing.
The senators also berated ZREC officials for being lax with the release of the funds.“Sa makatuwid you just relied on the documentation? There was no visitation of the NGO office; there was no face to face interview with the officers?” said Blue Ribbon Committee chair Sen. TG Guingona.
He added, ”In all this years 2007 2008 2009, you never noticed anything suspicious, you never got any word from your staff?”
Senator Chiz Escudero also questioned the leniency of the ZREC and NABCOR in validating and monitoring of the work that the NGOs were doing and whether or not the funds reached the intended beneficiaries.
“According to COA these liquidation reports are manufactured based on receipts that do not belong to them or they are not owned by them, emanating from suppliers that do not exist or cannot be found not such findings on your part, you just took the liquidation on the certified public accountant documents hook line and sinker?”
Officials of ZREC and NABCOR admitted that they should have carried out a "more intense validation" of the NGOs. Salacup said it "didn't cross my mind" that the NGOs could have been fake. Alvin Javellana, former president of the NABCOR said he was "shocked and surprised" when news of the scam hit media.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the department has already proposed the closure of ZREC saying it no longer serves it original purpose. “Nang ito po ay buuin ang paniniwala po ng mga mambabatas ay kailangan dahil nasa infant stage pa ang rubber industry sa ating bansa.”
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has conducted its second hearing on the pork scam wherein the lawmakers’ pork were allegedly funneled to Napoles’ bogus NGOs.
READ MORE: Gov't willing to file 'pork' scam raps sans Napoles testimony